How to Become a ‘Trusted Advisor’

The world of accounting is changing. Advisory services are becoming more valuable than ever and business owners are looking for an accountant to be a trusted advisor, as opposed to simply providing compliance work.

trusted advisor


In fact, recent Xero research confirmed that firms offering more than traditional compliance work are making significantly more profit than those who don’t. So with your competition providing the same services as you, how do you stand out from the crowd?

What is a trusted advisor?

A trusted advisor is someone who is more involved in business finance than a ‘traditional’ accountant. It’s someone who is more like a member of the business’s internal finance team than an external consultant.

So to become a trusted advisor you have to be far more than the services you provide. It’s about transparent communication, honest advice, and really listening to your clients. Without any of this, you’ll get left behind in the fight to keep your clients and gain new ones.

After all, keeping up is easier than catching up.

How to become a trusted advisor

Empathy

Moving beyond compliance isn’t as hard as it sounds. In fact, it’s just as much about talking to your clients as it is integrating tech into your offering.

So why not start by asking your clients what their goals are? Discussing what’s important to them can often lead to more valuable conversations. Try to put yourself in their shoes, after all, running a business isn’t always simple.

Of course, you may already be having these conversations with your clients. But if you incorporate them into your service offering, and make it a structured and regular thing, then you will both will get more out of them.

Honesty

You’ll know from experience that it’s always best when your clients are honest about their finances. But trust is a two-way street.

Putting a gloss on a client’s finances, or promising them something that you can’t deliver, is not a good way to encourage engagement with either you, or their finances. Instead, you should be honest about what they need to do and what you can do for them.

You can’t solve every problem, but you can solve some of them.

Tech

After having more honest and transparent conversations with clients you can begin to understand their needs. And there might just be an app or Cloud-based technology to help them.

But incorporating tech into your firm isn’t just about picking the shiniest software to impress your clients. It’s about finding solutions that will scale with the business and provide the right functionality at the right time.

Choosing the right apps can be time-consuming. So we’ve written up a blog on the top apps in the Xero and QuickBooks ecosystems to make that a little easier for you.

Transparency

Transparency is a huge part of trust. Keeping your client at arm’s length will only lead to disengagement, and eventually, the loss of that client. So with a change to your services, and a change to how you offer them, has to come a change to the way you handle your pricing.

This is particularly important if you start to incorporate advisory conversations and a tech stack into your offering. And when providing tech solutions that save you time, but provide your clients with more value, you need to decide on how best to price and promote them.

Whether you follow a value-based pricing model, or you price based on time, keeping things open and honest is an excellent way of ensuring that there’s a solid foundation of trust between you and your clients.

The accounting industry is changing. And so is business. Positioning yourself as someone that a business owner can trust simply means that they’ll be more likely to seek out your advice in the future. Becoming a trusted advisor means adding more value to your services and more revenue to your firm.

Catriona Bane

Marketing Executive with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Harry Potter and a profound love of coffee.