From Accounting to Consulting: Helping Customers Pivot

June 3, 2022

When the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, many small businesses faced detrimental impacts that led to financial struggles or failures. Though the world is slowly recovering, these impacts are not behind us. With rising inflation and supply shortages, accounting clients still face challenges that hinder financial success. 

In fact, 29% of businesses reported energy cost increases had impacted their production, and 36% of companies were absorbing the costs of current price increases. Now more than ever, companies need to consider how to expand to maintain profits. 

Accounting firms can help their clients do this by switching from accounting to consulting when necessary to benefit their clients better. By blurring the lines between these roles, firms can help brands pivot their business to prepare for the post-pandemic world. Doing so can diversify your firm's offerings to future-proof your client’s businesses as well as your firm. 

In this article, we’ll look at how accounting firms can help their clients with pivoting a business, including why they may want to consider offering this service.

Business Consultant vs Accountant: The Key Differences

Though the primary role of accounting firms is to help clients remain financially healthy and tax compliant, consulting services can support these objectives. Business consultants typically provide expert advice to brands, helping them improve their operations or reach goals.

When comparing business consultants vs accountants, the key difference is that consultants take on a primarily advisory role. Meanwhile, accountants may focus on numbers and tax regulations to increase financial proficiency. 

Still, today, accounting firms are shifting from just offering bookkeeping or tax services as they absorb consulting. In fact, research suggests that 32% of clients expect their accountants to provide advisory services.

Accounting to Consulting: Why Firms Should Do Both

Shifting from accounting to consulting allows firms to teach their clients how to use money effectively and pivot their operations for the future. Doing so can promote better client relationships and help clients understand their money better, making your firm's role more valuable in the long term. 

Remain Competitive

With the developments of online accounting tools, it's crucial for accounting firms to focus on client value to maintain a competitive edge. Helping clients plan for the future is a great way to provide a service that needs a human touch to simplify the process. 

Consulting diversifies your firm's offerings and draws in clients who seek expert guidance. Firms may provide the best support if they enlist specialised accountants who focus on particular business areas.

Protect and Support Client Relationships

Pivoting can help brands prepare for dramatic market shifts that could make it challenging to profit. Diversifying service offerings, adjusting operations, or penetrating a new market allows businesses to thrive and survive despite unpredictable changes. 

If you can consult clients on preparing for the future, they’ll likely be more satisfied with your services. Better client satisfaction and success can increase loyalty which can help retain and grow your client accounts

Sustain Your Firm’s Profitability

When clients successfully pivot their business, they can earn more and increase their market share for more substantial profits. To put it simply, the more your clients earn, the more your firm can make. 

Additionally, if you diversify your firm's offerings, you can bring in money from different sources. This approach future-proofs your practice if the need for standard accounting services decreases.

How To Help Brands Pivot a Business as an Accounting Team

There are several ways firms can help clients to pivot a business for greater agility and profitability. Let’s look at some of the approaches firms can take to help their clients adjust to the post-pandemic world and prepare for future challenges. 

Pivoting a Business to Increase Market Share

Pivoting a business can help them increase their market share and shield their sales from the effects of the COVID pandemic or similar events. 

If your firm has accountants with specialised market knowledge, they can offer specific expert advice to clients. For example, a client who runs a business in the travel industry may want to develop more diverse offerings and enter a new market that may be less impacted by halts in international travel. Or a restaurant business may want to expand into the food production sector to sustain profits if dining out declines again. 

Alternatively, clients may wonder how to enter markets that have expanded during the pandemic, such as digital technology or e-commerce. 

Accounting firms can provide financial advice or assess trends that guide clients towards greater earning potential and sustained growth. Your firm could also look at clients' books to find potential for greater earnings and suggest the best options to pivot or expand their business. Additionally, your firm can guide clients through the transition in a legally compliant way. 

Pivoting a Business Model Post Pandemic

Aside from helping businesses pivot to expand their market share, accountants can help clients consider how to pivot their internal operations. If clients adjust to post-pandemic demands, they’re more likely to succeed in the future.  

Depending on your firm's expertise, you may offer training on how to: 

  • Create a lockdown plan for a business
  • Create a financial plan for future growth 
  • Adjust to efficient remote working 
  • Perform market market research 
  • Create financial and workload plans for a surge in sick days

Firms can offer financial advice to plan for these adjustments and show clients how to develop and keep accurate records of these changes. Accountants could also provide financial expertise to help clients consider suitable investments and set up a financial cushion to smooth out their pivot.

To prepare your firm for a transition from accounting to consulting, check out our article on how to upskill your accounting team.

Discover How to Increase Your Firm’s Client Value with INAA

Here at INAA, we connect accounting firms who aim to deliver quality professional services around a shared vision to make global business personal, and take personal business global. 

With every industry change, our collaborative association of international businesses is committed to driving the conversation around auditing and accounting.

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