In our last article, we decoded CAS – client advisory services – and uncovered some of the reasons why this offering has grown at more than double the rate of traditional accounting services in the past few years. Given its popularity – and its profitability – it’s obvious that CAS should be an area of focus in your firm.
But there’s a problem: CAS is so broad as to be almost undefined. Depending on who you ask, CAS can include everything from bill payment and payroll to “outsourced CFO services” – a term almost as broad as CAS itself. Furthermore, many of the CAS offerings suggested by accounting industry leaders are backward focused: they look to solve problems today’s business owners experience using yesterday’s approaches.
If your firm is to make the most of the demand for CAS, you need to offer future-focused advisory services. And the best of these services can be integrated seamlessly into your firm’s current offerings.
What you DON’T need
For too long, the accounting and bookkeeping industry has focused on helping business owners by teaching them to think like accountants and bookkeepers. We’ve educated them on the need for checks and balances. We’ve taught them how to read and interpret their financial statements. We’ve even created magnificent tools to display key performance indicators in their businesses so they can consume the information at a glance.
In essence, we’ve been talking to business owners in conversational Swahili, whereas they just ordered their Swahili to English dictionary on Amazon yesterday.
As you are preparing to offer CAS in your firm, you need to think like a business owner – not an accountant or a bookkeeper. Yes, your clients are paying you for your accounting knowledge and expertise, but this must be translated into a language in which they are already fluent.
The two elements of future-focused CAS
Two CAS elements can be seamlessly integrated into your firm’s current offerings and help business owners without forcing them to think like an accountant or a bookkeeper:
- Technology management and training
- Real-time cash management
Technology management and training
Business owners aren’t looking for new technology for the sake of having new technology. They want something that is easy to use and will make their lives easier. When you help your clients learn to use technology that streamlines checks and balances in their business and simplifies their internal accounting processes without needing to understand accounting concepts, you help them take control of the accounting side of their business.
But wait…doesn’t that mean you are putting yourself out of work? Or at the very least reducing the amount you can earn from a client?
Absolutely not! Effective technology management requires an even higher level of accounting knowledge than doing the accounting soup to nuts. And, when you customize technology for your clients, you are providing them with a personalized solution with a much higher value than an out-of-the box software purchase.
The bonuses are numerous:
- You can now focus on advising your clients on things that will help their businesses grow instead of spending all your time doing compliance work for them.
- Technology management and training is profitable: A skilled employee in your firm can manage the technology in less time than one could to the compliance work. And much of the training on technology can be evergreened.
- You can look outside of the accounting industry for employees to help with technology management and training. Yes, someone will need to make sure the numbers produced by the technology make sense, but setup, optimization, and much of the oversight can be done by a tech-savvy non-accountant. Given the scarcity of seasoned professionals in the industry, this solves a huge challenge faced by many firms.
Real-time cash management
82% of small businesses fail due to a lack of cash. Even if a business is profitable on paper, if it runs out of cash and can’t quickly raise capital, the business will close its doors. Add to that the stress a business owner faces when they can’t pay themselves a living wage, and you can see why cash management is of utmost importance when building your future-focused CAS offerings.
But your focus shouldn’t only be on cash management. To offer effective, future-focused CAS, you must focus on real-time cash management.
Technology cannot provide this. When you rely on software or – shudder – spreadsheets to manage cash, you introduce a friction point: Someone, be it you or your client, has to update the technology in order to get the information the business owner needs to make decisions.
The one resource that can offer real-time information about a client’s cash position is their bank account. And Profit First is the system that leverages this resource as an effective real-time cash management tool.
Administered with the proper training and guidance, Profit First:
- Helps business owners manage their cash effectively, making sure they don’t close their doors due to a lack of cash.
- Helps business owners pay themselves a living wage as well as routine bonuses for running a profitable business.
- Propels businesses to sustainable, profitable growth.
The demand for CAS will only grow
By all accounts, the US economy – as well as other leading world economies – is heading toward a recession. As the pandemic taught us, periods of financial uncertainty lead business owners to seek more advice from their accountants and bookkeepers. Focusing on the two elements of future-focused CAS now will position your firm to meet the demands your clients already have while preparing for future CAS needs.