The World Beyond Compliance

Here’s a question:  What portion of your revenues are derived from compliance work – e.g., tax preparation and IRS representation; bookkeeping; QuickBooks setup, clean-up, and training; payroll; and audit work – versus value-added work – e.g., revenue improvement, business consulting, profit margin analysis, and workflow improvement projects?

If you answered 100 percent compliance work and no value-added services, you’re not alone.   There’s a lot of lip service about moving from compliance services to becoming a “trusted advisor.”   There’s an equal amount of confusion in how to get started.   Here are a few tips to help those of you who want to move in that direction.

    1. Assess Your Skills

It’s likely you know more than you think you do!  Most accountants already have the technical knowledge to offer value-added services.  All they need is a little structure and some help with the soft skills.  Depending on the type of offerings you create, you might need skills such as coaching, teaching, and more advanced selling.  Take an objective look at what you need so you can start to lay out a road map to fill those skills.

    1. Assess Your Boredom

Yep, if you’re bored or burned out, it’s likely you’re ready for the next great challenge in your career.  You may need to get out of your comfort zone, but if you are bored or underutilized, then you’re definitely ready!

    1. Assess Your Clients

Be careful with this one.  Don’t assess your client’s ability to pay.  Just assess whether they will benefit from your newly designed value-added service.  There’s a really big difference, and this is where most accountants hold themselves (and their clients) needlessly back.

    1. Keep It Separate

Value-added services deserve and need to be completely separate service lines.  Don’t shortchange yourself or your client by thinking you can “tack it on” to something else.

    1. Resist the Temptations

I’m not talking about Grandma’s warm apple strudel with Blue Bell French Vanilla ice cream, although that’s tempting.  It’s easy to get into the compliance sinkhole:  where you need to spend time learning all of the new regulations.  Start delegating some of that to your team so you’ll be freed up to think bigger.

    1. Trust Your Intuition

Moving into value-added work is not right for every accountant.  If you’re new, about to retire, or don’t feel comfortable with selling or soft skills, then it might be best to keep your current focus on compliance work.

For those of you who want to move into this area, we will be making this a priority with our products and services in 2014.  We just don’t think there’s enough help available in the industry, so we’ll be looking for that triple win as we always do:  for you, your client, and for us.