With technology increasingly automating the compliance work traditionally the lifeblood of firms, many are looking to tap into new revenue streams by delivering advisory services. However according to Smithink, only about 20 percent make it a success.
So how can you set your firm up for success? Here’s four critical steps to take:
- Dedicate capacity to business advisory work
The typical firm faces two key challenges – they’re time poor and lack confidence delivering advice. As such, when the demands of compliance work rise, advisory work generally falls by the wayside. It’s therefore essential to place appropriately skilled staff in roles dedicated, at least partially, to advisory work. Embedding processes to ensure your firm stays committed to advisory work, even when compliance work is at its most demanding, is also a must.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your clients about their business
The best advisors are those who genuinely want to understand their client’s business and are willing to ask the so called ‘obvious’ questions. While these types of questions may seem obvious to the firm, they are often those the client – who is sometimes too ingrained in their business – has failed to ask themselves. Getting out of your comfort zone to ask open-ended questions and actively listen to your client will help unlock their concerns. Simply telling clients about your advisory service won’t get you anywhere unless you’re focusing on the issues important to them. So developing the confidence and skills to ask questions is paramount.
- Build a network of experts
Many firms don’t feel confident asking clients about their business, fearing they may lack the expertise to help them. Critical to gaining this confidence is to build a network of advisors – with expertise in fields like HR, marketing, IT and law – who you can call upon when your client is facing an issue outside your expertise.
- Follow up with your clients regularly
If an initial discussion with a client fails to yield any advisory opportunities, it’s unwise to assume the door is closed. Thinking they know what their client’s situation is, many firms don’t see the value in asking about their business at regular intervals. However your clients’ businesses are subject to constant change – one year they may be concerned about cash flow, the next about success planning. So it’s essential to follow up with your clients at least once per year and establish the internal processes to ensure these regular discussions take place.
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