From XU Magazine, 
Issue 26

Why your firm needs clarity to thrive

How Clarity, finalist in Xero’s Practice App of the Year 2021, can help you introduce and create a profitable, repeatable and scalable business advisory service for your firm.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Compliance isn’t dead

For years accountants have been told to move from compliance to advisory. “Compliance is dead!” is an often-heard rallying cry. We know this isn’t the case. Small businesses will always need assurance over the raft of constantly changing regulations and legislation. Compliance is here to stay. But for most accountants, a pure focus on compliance services doesn’t deliver sustainable profitability. Combining compliance AND advisory is a path that does work. But it’s not just about more money, it’s also about more impact and more happiness for your clients, team and the firm.

So why have firms struggled to introduce business advisory services?

Traditionally, business advisory hasn’t properly leveraged the right combination of people, process and technology.

Advisory services are often delivered by more senior team members (partners and managers), to top clients and often with a bespoke service. This works well for your top-tier clients, who can afford and are prepared to pay for that type of service. Senior team members have limited time, so what happens when we try to introduce more junior members to the equation and offer advisory services, using traditional methodologies, to our smaller clients?

The more junior team don’t have the experience, and existing systems and processes are still heavily dependent on time-starved senior team assisting, training or delivering. Smaller businesses are not prepared (or able) to pay the fees associated with a bespoke service. And often, partners assume that smaller businesses, who reluctantly pay for accounts and tax returns, won’t want to pay for advisory services - even though they do pay for coaches, mentors and business organisations.

Finally there is also a lack of understanding of what business advisory is, overcomplicating the process or assuming that firing out reports to already overwhelmed business owners is business advisory.

Business advisory made simple

So what is business advisory and how does a firm implement or scale business advisory services? 

This is the exact same framework used by large scale consulting agencies, Big4 firms, small niche advisory accounting firms and pretty much any other business in wealth management, tax, marketing, branding, time management- you name it! Business advisory really is that easy. 

Within the same platform, you can now deliver all aspects of this business advisory framework. 

Help your clients understand where they are now

Clients don’t get their numbers. Now, your team can quickly understand how a client is performing with the 7 Key Numbers that every business owner should know. Clarity gives you a complete picture of your clients’ profit and loss, balance sheet, cash position, efficiency and effectiveness. These 7 Key Numbers strip back the complexity and help your clients to understand the numbers that really matter.

Get your clients thinking about what’s possible

Clients rarely take time out to think about what’s possible and where they are heading. Some clients are bogged down in the nitty gritty and just can’t imagine a different future or path. The 7 Key Numbers transform into the 5 Levers of Success. Show your clients what’s possible for their business and how they can get there. Get them to understand what movements in what levers do to their profit and cash position, and agree a better future.

Calculate the gap between where they are now to where they could get to.

Accountants are great at critical thinking. Use your skills to help clients understand the gap and whether closing it is achievable. You can also help clients break down the gap and understand what levers have the greatest impact on their profits and cash flow.

Create a plan

Planning is critical for success. Now, you can leverage technology to create a plan for every single client. Accountants are great at creating financial plans and with Clarity you can create a twelve-month financial plan at the click of a button. But financial plans are useless on their own. A Clarity action plan, that relates the levers of success to specific actions and results; creates focus, responsibility and accountability. Accountability is the secret sauce! Studies show that small business owners with written goals, who are held accountable, achieve 78% more. And finally, if your clients need funding to achieve their goals, you can also help them do that  quickly with Funding by Clarity.

Measure and monitor results against the plan

Within Clarity you can measure budget versus actual results on a monthly or quarterly basis against a rolling twelve month or annualised forecast. Use our meeting and agenda systems together with our cutting-edge education platform to engage your team to deliver the same outstanding results every time. No longer is business advisory solely reliant on the partners of the firm. Leveraging technology, with our award-winning systems and processes, makes it possible for more junior members of the team to get involved. 

Portfolio view

Clarity’s portfolio view makes it possible to see all your clients’ key numbers (in real-time or for a particular month end) on the same screen. Sort, segment, filter and benchmark your clients. Highlight key issues at a glance, such as, cash flow challenges, funding gaps or efficiency problems. Analyse risks in your portfolio and identify opportunities. Connect your email and contact your clients, with high-impact insights to generate meetings, at the click of a button.

We make it easy for you to make a difference to the lives of your clients.

Clarity is more than just software

“If you think that Clarity is just a piece of software, you’re missing the point. It’s a mindset, a different way of doing business and a shift in the way we talk about our firm to prospects and clients” Graeme Tennick, Tennick Accountants

Clarity combines the power of:

  • a technology-led platform - to do the heavy lifting;
  • hi-impact systems and processes - to get the same great result every time for the firm and client;
  • education, implementation and accountability programmes- beyond advisory, helping you and your firm; and
  • member events and a vibrant community - empowering your team, firm and clients to achieve success.

Next step

To find out more about what a difference Clarity can make to your firm and clients, book a call with one of our partner consultants. We’ll show you how some firms are doubling their own profits and those of their clients too!

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