How to become a 'business advisor': Part two

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In the second of a two part series, Finola McManus explains how partners can empower staff members to carry out business advisory work and discusses effective techniques for marketing these services to clients.

In my last article, I explained why accountants need to get over their fear of the term 'business advice' and explained how practices can offer added value to existing clients - and get paid for it. Business advisory skills tend to be associated primarily with practice owners or partners and there is a perceived gap in knowledge when it comes to passing these skills to other members of the team. With limited hours in the day, owners and partners can only do so much, so it’s essential they find a way to deliver high value support and services to clients...

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By Anonymous
28th Nov 2009 17:41

"Business" Advice? From Bean Counters?

Look, I'm a bean counter, and proud of it.  Qualified, 1/4 century experience, high IQ - probably the same as most of you out there.  But I resist the notion of "added value" for clients - what is this?  Making money by flogging some poor client something they don't need and can't afford, because we can baffle them into thinking our profession is some kind of oracle?  Well its not.  Maybe if they're starting up, we can tell them "don't - you're likely to fail" (as one of the very many flippin' quango advisors once told me was the advice they should really give, but aren't allowed).  But if they're already trading, they'll know about their competitors, footfall, supply-demand, staffing issues, cashflow etc far better than any of us, even if our line in business waffle convinces them otherwise.  We can advise about anything relating to their finances, though, and I would assume we all do - but this is part of the accounts and tax return prep. stuff - not "added value" should be called "inclusive value", "expected value", "already paid for value"

Well, that rant is finished.  Anyone fancy joining me in having a go at aforementioned quango's/public funded business start-up organisations?  Anyone have a client who's actually been better off for having secured grant funding (without any associated problems e.g. delayed start-up, cash flow, days of form completion, tied to an adviser who doesn't suit them)?  Or had any advice that has actually been of any USE to them?

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By Anonymous
28th Nov 2009 17:52

oh - I see this has already been covered..........


....although with perhaps rather less vitriol........


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29th Nov 2009 23:19

it all depends on the individual accountant
I think accountants can give business advice, and add real value in the process. But not all accountants have the personality or ability to give added value business advice.

I don't think that we are selling them something they don't want or need. Firstly, they will only buy these services if they want them. Secondly, I don't think there are many businesses out there who don't need advice from time to time, accountancy practices included.

I am personally being coached to improve my time and team management skills and to develop better questioning skills for giving business advice. Do as I do not as I say, so to speak.
We can't be bean counters forever, it is a commodity service and the competition is growing daily for this work.

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