Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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LivePlan backs advisory course for UK practitioners

29th Aug 2018
Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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How to build an advisory practice with Mark Wickersham and LivePlan
How to build an advisory practice with Mark Wickersham and LivePlan

US business planning software developer LivePlan has teamed up with practice consultant Mark Wickersham to run an online tutorial series on how to build a business advisory service.

Hosted at Selladvisory2018.com, the training program revolves around four 90min online sessions hosted by Wickersham and Kathy Gregory, the program manager for strategic advising at LivePlan. The program is built on top of the LivePlan Method advisory template and costs £439 for UK practitioners.

The topics covered include:

  • How to price business advisory services
  • How to bundle advisory services as part of your wider offering to appeal to buyers
  • Communication techniques to educate your clients about the value you offer

“Accountants are being told over and over to ‘go be an adviser’ because your job is being commoditised,” Kathy Gregory told AccountingWEB. “What they’re not being told is how to do that and how to make money doing it. That is where we connect with them.”

Oregon-based LivePlan has been operating in the UK for nearly 20 years. Its parent organisation Palo Alto Software developed the business planning tool that Barclays Bank used to hand out to its business customers. Since then LivePlan has evolved into a planning add-on for QuickBooks and latterly Xero. A big part of the developer’s activity goes into user education and training, including the LivePlan Method.

“Advisory is not very well defined, so the method is how we teach accountants to do it properly,” Gregory said.

Based in part on the six sigma approach, the LivePlan Method lays out a standardised template for all the steps that need to be taken to deliver business advice. “You need to understand how to do all of these tasks,” Gregory said. “Can you lay a name of someone within the firm to each activity? If you can’t, that’s where the knowledge gap is. If you can, that’s where the scope of work is.

“Your job as the adviser is to take the line items from revenue only – and perhaps translate them into unit sales or billable hours to make them more relevant to the client. Those become the  actual drivers of the business – that’s what you want them to build towards.”

Having agreed goals with the client, the adviser meets them every month to compare the actuals to the planned numbers. “Any gaps represent operational flaws, so you can discuss with the business owner where the gap is and what they can do about it.”

Alongside the online course, the LivePlan processes are set out in a guide that includes typical meeting agendas and script suggestions to help the adviser navigate through client conversations. “How do you have those conversations? That’s just as much part of the process – this is what we spend most of our time teaching people what to do,” said Gregory.

LivePlan is one of 12 forecasting, planning and analysis software applications listed within AccountingWEB’s new Software Reviews section that will appear on the site shortly. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements.

Replies (3)

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By sarah douglas
30th Aug 2018 12:27

Hi John

I have used Liveplan for quite a few clients and Kathy Gregory supplies good advice when you sign up.

The software is excellent for pitching and tendering and making your client focus on the pitch as well as the figures. In fact, the pitching side is where I feel Liveplan excel and make the business think.

It is an excellent piece of software and I advise you just sign up directly and just get on with using it. All my clients who are fairly tech found it easy to use.

I had them sign up but you can be a partner which I am not writing off in the future.

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By indomitable
30th Aug 2018 12:52

Not another piece of software and so called tool to let you know how to build a successful practice.

I do despair at this industry that has grown up of 'so called' growth experts. Common sense, a good sales & marketing process, communication skills, an engaging personality and caring passionately about your clients are far more important in building a successful practice.

“Advisory is not very well defined, so the method is how we teach accountants to do it properly,”

Really a rather arrogant statement

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By sarah douglas
30th Aug 2018 14:35

Liveplan is not a software to advise you how to have a successful practice. It is a great piece of forecasting and sales pitch software that can bring in funding to a business.

It is a very useful piece of software and I have had clients use it well on our recommendation for tenders or pitches.

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