Technological change is transforming the business models of firms in the tax world, allowing accountants to move from a singular focus on compliance to a broader adviser role – and growing revenue in the process.
1. Specialise by industry, not geography
Offering specialised advice allows advisers to charge higher fees and lift their profit margins, while also providing opportunities to upsell – this has always been the case. What has changed is that niche opportunities are much easier to come by today.
Technology has made it easier to connect with clients in a niche field in any location, in a way that only major firms could have achieved in the past. Meanwhile, the digital age has brought with it new businesses and new niches to target – ranging from health technology start-ups to lifestyle bloggers. Simply put, there are more niches to target than ever before and collaborating with them is an easier proposition.
The first step is to assess the skills and strengths of your team, and the industries of your existing client base. Work out whether a particular industry or business profile is over-represented in your client base, or among your most profitable clients.
This should guide the search for niches you may be able to cater to. Once you have an idea of who you would like to target, find out who is currently catering to that market and consider how you could offer a value that they don’t.
2. Charge your accountants by advising beyond narrow boundaries
Sales and marketing should not just be something your business does in addition to its day to day functions. The people with the most client facetime are often your greatest asset when it comes to selling.
By being trusted advisers, rather than compliance functionaries, your accountants will make themselves an invaluable resource for your customers. Naturally, that helps with retention, but it also provides the perfect foundation for upselling opportunities.
To think like an advice-skewed sales team, your accountants should spend time with the accounts that have the greatest opportunity for growth and ask:
- What else do I know that would be helpful to this client?
- What else do I or others in this practice do that this client needs?
- What other clients or referral partners can I introduce to this client that would help them?
The next step is to offer this help. Of course, this is not about a hard sell – that’s the best way to turn a client off. The best course is to be helpful in ways the client may not have thought your practice could.
3. Embrace technological disruption
Technological change creates opportunities and challenges – 92 per cent of accountants feel they are not ready for the future. The key to succeeding in this environment is to accept the challenges and prepare for the future.
A forward-thinking firm needs to realise that sophisticated consumer software, and the rise of machine learning, artificial learning and automation are reducing demand for traditional accounting practices.
Small businesses, increasingly led by people who have grown up in the technological age, are taking on more of a do-it-yourself approach to accounting as they look for cost savings. And, in a world that’s connected 24/7, clients who use the services of an accountant expect faster responses and greater service than in the past.
Enabling and empowering accountants with technology allows them time to think about a client’s needs beyond compliance, and build advice-based relationships.
As a trusted adviser, your business will be able to attract high-value clients with more complex needs, allowing you to lift revenue per client and, therefore, profitability. By taking action now, you’ll give yourself a valuable edge in the marketplace over slower-moving rivals.
How to thrive during the tax tech revolution
Onvio can help
Thomson Reuters Onvio can help your business deal with the unprecedented rate of change the industry is seeing by equipping you with the advanced software you need to run your practice. Onvio’s cloud technology allows you and your staff to work anywhere at any time using one online system. You’ll be able to share data seamlessly and streamline your workflow, while keeping your confidential data secure at all times.