Rapid changes in the accounting industry mean that you and your clients will benefit from a move towards strategic partnerships. By playing a more impactful role in your clients’ businesses, you can build stronger relationships to give your firm stability.
The model of external accountants can often be limited when companies need to implement widespread change. Innovation is more likely now than ever with the attempt to bounce back from the pandemic, demands of increased sustainability and the advancements of the digital finance landscape.
When it comes to how to be a strategic business partner, you need to know where you can add value for your clients. Taking a proactive approach will allow you to form stronger relationships and work in a way that aligns with both of your goals.
Help Make Change Happen
After a consultation with your firm you could find areas that your client needs to cut costs on. Even though the leaders agree, they can struggle to spread the message to their wider organisation. For example, different departments may have their own unique priorities.
To ensure you offer value-added accounting, provide different advice to business members at different levels. You can oversee the implementation of change in different areas, and guarantee your clients get the overall results they need.
As the accounting experts, you have the authority and know-how on the subject. Offering an extra hand in carrying out financial management changes is a great way to set yourself up as a strategic partner, building trust with your clients.
Help Come Up With Ideas
An outside perspective is constructive for many businesses because habits can form within internal workplace cultures. Decision-makers who operate in the same areas for long enough can get attached to the routine and be reluctant to change.
As an outsider looking in, you can see threats or opportunities that your clients could miss. For example, your accountants could understand more about the impact that cryptocurrency could have on the clients business. It might be a threat to their current reliance on foreign currencies, or offer an opportunity to accept payment differently.
The best way to come up with ideas relevant to business is to work closely with them on their problems. For the client, they will want proof that you know how to be a strategic partner to them. So learn what you can about how they work and combine that knowledge with your accounting skills to offer new alternative solutions to them.
By taking the proper steps to be a strategic business partner, you will be able to build a lasting connection that benefits both you and your clients.
Understand the Business
To offer value-added accounting for clients, your firm must prioritise gaining a robust understanding of their businesses. You need to know the client's corporate objectives that define their organisation internally, beyond bookkeeping goals.
If you can identify what the business seeks to do long-term, you can help them adopt the right strategies and put them on the road to success. That forward-thinking will set your firm apart from others and prove to the client that they can rely on you.
When you start to help clients reach their internal targets, the value your firm brings to their operations will become clear. Adopting the client's mindset and gaining a full understanding of their business goals is different from traditional accounting, but it's more in line with the demands of an innovative future.
Use People Skills
For accounting firms, the critical leap to how to be a strategic business partner is communication. You need to set up an open contact line between your business and the clients. If you can make it as easy as possible to address their concerns, you can move forward together.
A primary emphasis should be on the importance of sharing success. That's a crucial distinction from the mentality of short-term service providers. You want to form a relationship that can stand the test of time.
Relationship-building also means personal contact between leaders and other relevant stakeholders to bring the businesses closer. For example, you could hold regular meetings with the management team while working on specific projects with different client departments.
Create Valuable Insights
Your abilities as an accounting firm are likely to include the crucial task of interpreting data, which is a great way to inform decisions. Clients could benefit from the insights that you offer to help them run their overall business.
It’s one thing to gather the reports and offer numbers about performance, but if you can provide your clients with clear insights then it’s a lot easier for them to use. For example, you can identify that their sales increase at the beginning of each month. That could offer an insight into the habits of their customers which you can pass onto their marketing teams.
The things that your accountants notice and pick up on are likely to be backed up by data that you can point to. Reliable strategic advice is valuable, and it can quickly ensure that your firm shows clients the benefits of a closer relationship.
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