The ability to provide holistic service is key to delivering value to clients. However, many firms are still stuck in a traditional business model focusing on transactional and compliance services with little regard for the client's overall financial well-being. As a result, clients often feel underserved and frustrated when they don't receive comprehensive advice from their accountants and advisors.
To address this issue, you need to revamp your business development and client onboarding process so you can demonstrate how your firm can serve clients holistically. So let's discuss why this is important and what steps you can take to successfully implement these processes.
Understanding the new business model in accounting
The business model of many accounting firms is shifting away from traditional transactional and compliance work and focusing more on advisory and consulting services. This change is largely due to the increased complexity of the financial landscape, driven by globalization, technological advances and constantly changing regulations. As a result, clients are now seeking advice beyond compliance to help them make informed decisions about their finances and reach their goals.
Firms need to offer more than just tax preparation or financial statement audits to keep up with these changes. Clients might need those services but also help with cash flow management, strategic planning, risk assessment, wealth management, succession planning, technology, human resources, and more.
Identifying the needs of your clients
Under the traditional approach, CPA firms were structured in siloes. If a tax partner leads a business development conversation, they often focus only on tax matters. Likewise, audit partners focused on developing audit clients. This meant clients received information from their CPAs in a piecemeal fashion, without any guidance about how different elements of their financial picture fit together.
This is where the new model of holistic client service comes in. Firms must take a broader approach that looks at the entire financial picture and considers how each component affects the whole. To do this, it's essential to identify the individual needs of each client and understand their vision of success.
The value of a holistic approach
With the increased complexity of the financial landscape, clients need more than just transactional and compliance work—they require advice beyond these standard services. By taking a holistic approach, firms can provide clients with valuable advice that looks at the entire picture, allows them to make informed decisions, and helps them reach their goals.
Packaging and pricing your services
So how can you demonstrate how your firm will holistically serve clients? The first step is to package and price your services to meet your client's needs while also providing value for money.
For example, if you want to work with manufacturers, they may need monthly financial statements, payroll, annual federal and state tax filings, cash flow management, and strategic planning. Consider how to package those services and implement subscription pricing so clients can work with you year-round—not just around deadlines.
Once you've packaged and priced your services, consider how you approach business development conversations. There are a few ways to approach this. One is to ensure everyone in your firm is trained to talk to clients about how you can serve them holistically. So if a prospective client is referred to a tax manager, that tax manager is prepared to talk about all the ways the firm can serve them—not just what the tax department does.
Another way to approach these conversations is to have a dedicated business development team. Whether this is one person or several, they don't need to know how your firm prepares a tax return or delivers an audit engagement to discuss how your firm can help the client and improve their business.
Finally, you might bring multiple people in from different areas of the firm to have business development conversations.
The right approach will depend on the size of your firm and the type of client you're talking to. But no matter how you approach these conversations, having packages of services at different price points can help show clients the value you can offer.
Your firm's success in the modern world depends on its ability to shift from the traditional business model and embrace a new, holistic approach to client services. By understanding your client's needs and offering packages at different price points, you can demonstrate your value and provide clients with the guidance and support they need to make better decisions. With a comprehensive approach to business development, you'll be well-positioned to meet the changing landscape.
Do you want to fast-track your firm's success in the areas of marketing and business development?
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As the Marketing Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Heather’s primary focus is on developing the firm’s marketing strategy and brand awareness to help drive business results. She manages and executes marketing and business development initiatives, with daily oversight of the website, social media, and thought leadership content. In addition, as a part of the Business Development team, she provides leadership and strategic planning on marketing and communication practices for the firm.