By Jasen Stine and Jim Buffington.
Everyone’s talking about advisory – it continues to be a hot topic in the tax and accounting profession, but how do you know as a business owner when it’s time for your business or firm to make the move to advisory? And why do firms make the decision to change?
Especially if things are going well, a lot of business owners can be opposed or hesitant to any big changes that could disrupt what their business is accomplishing. However, there’s no “right” time to make the change to advisory, but there’s no time like the present. Deciding to begin offering advisory services will help your firm keep up and evolve with the industry, and tax and accounting firms should make a plan to adapt soon.
So what ultimately makes firms and tax professionals make the switch to advisory? It almost always comes down to one thing: Lifestyle. Owners no longer want to go through the motions, feel under appreciated and strapped to their desk. When you get down to it it’s the business owner wanting another lifestyle – something better for their firms and employees – and adding advisory services can help.
What often happens is some of the more traditional firms will take a course or network with others in the industry and have an epiphany moment where they realize the difference advisory services can make to their overall work-life balance. They realize their practice is maxed out on the volume of tax returns and compliance work and come to the conclusion that making changes to their overall business will help them and their staff. They finally understand they no longer need to be a firefighter, putting out fires but never feeling appreciated, and can instead move towards a more strategic and relationship-driven business.
Advisory isn’t only a benefit for the clients – it’s a benefit for the business owner and their employees. It takes the pressure off a lot of the compliance work that keeps you in the office, tied to your computer until the late hours of the night. Advisory allows you to be creative, make a difference in your client’s lives and do the tax/accounting planning you have always wanted to do. All of the financial acumen and the years of tax knowledge is lost in compliance work. With advisory, tax pros can build strategies to help clients reach their goals.
Oftentimes, tax and accounting firms perceive the shift to advisory to be such a big project and one that would disrupt their already successful business. However, in the long run, this service will make such a big difference to how you work, recruit, and find balance in your life and your business. It will take time, it’s not a short or easy journey, but it’s worth it.
Once firms finally change, they see something they’re excited about. They see a practice that they love, that they are energized about and one they want to deliver to clients and employees to create a better place for people to work.
It’s not easy. Trying to change the behavior of your firm is difficult, and things don’t change overnight. But it’s important to begin this journey – start aligning with clients on their goals and see the immense benefits you, your firm and your employees will start to receive.
Jasen Stine is tax and accounting education leader at Intuit. Jim Buffington is advisory services leader for Intuit Accountants.