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Evolving Your Service Offerings: Moving from Compliance to Advisory

The competitive landscape in accounting is becoming increasingly crowded. So firms must think ahead and look for ways to evolve their services to remain successful. This means being strategic about moving beyond focusing solely on transactional and compliance work and becoming trusted advisors for your clients.

For many firms, the challenge isn't identifying advisory services their clients need and value—it's finding the time to build out those service offerings, have consultative conversations with clients and perform advisory services when they already have full workloads.

So let's explore how your firm can embrace the shift toward providing business advisory services and unlock more opportunities for long-term sustainability!

Compliance + Advisory = Growth

First, it's crucial to realize that transactional, compliance and advisory services aren't an either/or proposition. Firms can and should develop packages of multiple services to address their clients' needs holistically.

Think of your ideal clients. Which combination of the services below would they benefit from?

By developing a portfolio of services, you can offer more comprehensive support to your clients and generate more revenue for your firm.

Creating capacity for advisory and consulting services

Firms that successfully add advisory and consulting services don't rely solely on one solution to build capacity but take a multi-faceted approach that includes the following:

  • Technology and automation. Leveraging technology and automation allows the firm to reduce redundant data entry, automate manual processes and free up time for offering more value-added services.

  • Outsourcing. By outsourcing specific tasks, such as tax preparation, payroll, bookkeeping, and other functions that need a lot of manual input but aren't easily automated, firms can create additional capacity to focus on advisory services.

  • Process improvement. You need standardized processes to automate and outsource. Process improvement will also help your team get more done in less time and create capacity.

  • Client filtering. Many firms spend an incredible amount of time serving wrong-fit clients who don't generate significant revenue for the firm and contribute to staff stress and burnout. Filtering out those clients will help make room for more right-fit clients.

All of these tactics will give you more space to invest time and energy into offering advisory services.

Identifying advisory service opportunities

Another trap firms fall into when adding advisory services is believing they need to build out the entire advisory department—technology, staff, processes, marketing collateral, etc.—before approaching clients. But this approach is backward.

Instead of creating the service, talk to your clients about their goals and pain points. Through these conversations, you can understand a client's current situation, the issues they face, and their desired outcomes for the future. This allows you to develop tailored services that meet your clients' needs.

To an extent, this might feel like building a plane while it's in the air. However, you succeed in advisory services when you become a trusted advisor for your clients and offer comprehensive solutions to help them grow their businesses or reach their goals.

Advisory is a team sport

It's also crucial to remember that advisory and consulting services are team sports. You don't have to be an expert on tax, audit, cash flow management, strategic planning, wealth management and more to be your client's trusted advisor. You do need to know where to access the expertise they need.

Your firm is made up of many individuals with unique skills and expertise, so taking a team approach allows you to leverage different members' strengths and provide a more comprehensive service offering for your clients. This team might include other accountants, but it might also include technology specialists, human resources professionals, marketers, and people with experience working in your clients' industries.

By building out this team with complementary skillsets and a common goal of helping clients, you can unlock more opportunities for your firm to provide valuable services and generate more revenues.

Don't let your current never-ending to-do list stand in the way of moving up the continuum of value. When you become a trusted advisor for your clients, you will unlock more opportunities to serve them and drive long-term and sustainable growth for your firm.


Could you benefit from a peer network of other advisory service leaders?

The Boomer Business Transformation Circle is a peer group of advisory service leaders from top accounting firms who benefit from sharing knowledge, best practices and lessons learned. Apply now to get plugged into the Circle and start transforming your firm.


As the Solutions Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Deanna works to help clients and prospective clients identify their dangers, opportunities and strengths. Once these are identified, she works to develop a personalized game plan for their firm to focus on the area, or areas, they need to improve on most. These areas are critical to a firm’s success and future-readiness; Leadership, Talent, Technology, Process and Growth.


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