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5 myths about advisory – part 2

12th Mar 2024
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Are you running an accountancy practice? Or is it running you?

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Shane Lukas continues to debunk common myths around advisory. He interviews Gloria Murray of Xeinadin Murray Associates to find out how this small Scottish practice has made such a success of delivering advisory services. 

5 myths about advisory - part 2 - AVN Inspiring Accountants - Gloria Murray photo
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In part one we looked at two myths: it only works for big clients and you need to have specific skills (read part one here). Let’s dig into three more.

Myth 3: It only works in a big practice

Gloria is living proof that this simply isn’t true – there are just five in the team. But she makes an important point:

“You have to have other people to do the compliance work. There's no way I could do all the compliance work myself and do business advisory. I still review quite a lot of the work but there's certain things that I don't have to review anymore. There's absolutely no way that you can do it all. It's got to be a case of right, these are the hours I'm going to do compliance. And these are the hours that I'm going to spend on advisory.”

Myth 4: I have to be an expert in the industry

Your client is the expert in their business and their industry. You are the expert in financials. You don’t have to know everything about their industry to be able to help them.

As Gloria says, “I see myself as their financial director and you wouldn't ask me to solve an operational problem if we were in a bigger business. You would come to me with issues surrounding pricing or gross profit percentage. So I can't answer every single question in the same way that no one who's a business coach or a business advisor can answer every single question.”

“If it's something that I can't answer there and then, I'll just be honest and say, off the top of my head I don't know that answer, but I'll see what I can find out for you. And it might be that you then look at the problem and decide that it's not something that you can help them with.”

However, that’s not to say that Gloria doesn’t do her homework.

“The one question I always prepared for was, ‘You can't do that in my business’. That was one thing that I would hear from business owners. So I would look to the outliers within their industry then say, ‘Well, you’re saying you can't do that, but X, Y and Z are doing it over there. So what makes you different from them? They're doing exactly what we're talking about.’”
 
Gloria uses a benchmarking tool (AVN BenchMark) to demonstrate the figures to the client.

“It’s a great way of saying, ‘Well, you're saying you can't get your gross profit percentage above X. There's several companies here within your local area that are doing that.’ It just gives you the strength to then talk about it from their level. I certainly try and find out as much as I possibly can about someone's business so that I know more about their industry and the approximate gross profit percentages within that industry etc. before I go and have a conversation with them.”

Myth 5: My clients won’t pay for it

Well, no, they won’t pay for it if they can’t see the value in it. The key is to position your services as a way to get rid of the headaches in their business.  

Gloria makes sure her marketing resonates with a business owner’s pain points.

“The real pain that you see with small businesses is cashflow. They’ve not got enough cash every month. They wonder if they're going to be able to pay the wages. When the VAT comes around they're wondering if they can pay it. Or they have to rob Peter to pay Paul and move money around. And the sleepless nights, the time that you're not spending with family.” 

“As accountants we have in the palm of our hands the ability to change our clients’ lives. And I think that's such a valuable thing to be able to do. When you see a client who is worrying about things, or is almost on the brink of bankruptcy, if you can pull them back from that and give them a lifeline. Or someone who's been limping along in business for a few years, and you help them to get out of that cycle so that they're actually thriving, is just wonderful to see. No matter that we get paid for it as well!”

And for me, this is the real purpose of advisory, changing lives for the better. 

The full interview with Gloria is available to watch on the AVN website. We cover a lot more ground and answer questions directly from accountants in practice so it’s well worth watching – watch here: Advisory is a scary word for many accountants