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Preparing Your Firm for Advisory Success

So, you’ve decided you’re up for the challenge of business advisory work. The single most important piece of advice we can give you is this: you’re not going to succeed if you don’t have a solid, proven implementation plan and the resourcing and capacity to systematically roll it out.

In my experience, you’ll also need to nominate someone to champion the project – typically a partner, or senior accountant. Ideally, your project champion should be someone who is strong and determined and has the influence and leadership qualities required to push through the personal discomforts that may make some individuals in the firm hesitant to proceed or to step up to the plate.

With that in mind, some of the key steps we recommend you consider at the outset include:

  • A proven implementation plan
    I urge you not to proceed down the advisory path without a proven implementation plan. I have seen too many firms try and fail, and we know that doing so can be not only demoralising but also very, very expensive.
  • Increase capacity
    Setting up a business advisory service is not something you can squeeze in around the edges of a busy compliance practice. One of the first things your plan should cover is how you’re going to increase your firm and staff members’ capacity and free up the time of those who will be most crucial to your success. This might involve hiring more team members, delegating work others can do, improving your internal processes and staff training to improve efficiency, upgrading your IT hardware and systems, or even letting go of some clients who you no longer want to work with.
  • Resourcing
    Have you got the right staff, in the right roles, with the right decision-making power available to dedicate themselves to business advisory engagements? If you’re considering taking on business advisory and its implementation yourself, do you have a succession plan for handing over your existing responsibilities?
  • Targets
    Over the years I have observed that the firms that set themselves solid targets are the ones most likely to succeed. For example, you might want to set a goal that in two years, your advisory income from the first 10 clients you introduce to the service will reach 50% of your compliance billing to them. A concrete goal like this will also help you gain buy-in from your partners and co-workers.
  • Accountability
    Aside from the list of action steps involved in implementing your plan, make sure you’ve considered how you’re going to keep yourselves accountable to your commitment. (If you need help with that, consider enrolling in Smithink Business Advisory Enabled program – it’s been specially developed to keep you on track, so you achieve your goals).
  • Systems
    There are a number of software tools that will enhance your advisory work, however, the systems and processes involved in successfully implementing an advisory service go beyond IT. How will you identify suitable clients to offer your advisory services to? How will you track your success rate? How will you price your services? How will you ensure each opportunity, now and in the future, is followed up for optimal outcomes for both the firm and the client? And how will you ensure all relevant people on the team receive the ongoing training they need in order to develop and improve their advisory skills?

Why not get the ball rolling by taking a complimentary 45 minute Business Advisory Readiness Assessment webinar with me? We will examine where your firm’s business advisory service is at the moment, where you want it in the future, how to get there and who is going to do what. Just reach out to me at [email protected] and we can organise a suitable day and time.

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Mark Holton

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