Consulting and Advisory Services: Are you ready for change?
Irma Zaldivar, BDO USA, LLP
Business owners are savvier than ever before. They are not going to hire anybody who claims to be a consultant in the accounting industry without seeing the value behind what they offer. People that work at accounting firms can no longer just rely on basic bookkeeping and accounting services. What was once a cushy tax-and-audit monopoly has become a low-growth commodity?
So, what do consultants really do other than help you understand what various reports mean and how the data affects your company? Here are a few services, to name a few, that accounting firms are diving into:
- Transactional advisory services
- Artificial intelligence
- Cloud computing
- Risk advisory services
- Cybersecurity services
As the accounting industry has been adapting to new technology, it’s disrupting audit, tax, and accounting services most firms are offering. It can leave CPAs concerned about their firm’s future. Firms must begin to consider transitioning away from an accounting firm that offers only compliance-related work. Accounting firms find themselves shifting their focus and are trying to understand the challenges businesses face while providing innovative solutions to assist in growing their business and making strategic decisions. The successful firms will find the benefit in offering value-added services to clients and offering more advisory services to help clients manage their business successfully.
These type of services will deepen existing relationships through cross-selling and providing new services to existing clients. In addition, having these type of services can make your firm look more appealing and bring in more coveted clients that pay on time and can afford to pay more value-added services. It can also bring in new clients looking for the type of services you didn’t offer before.
Here are a few examples of those type of services and how a business can benefit:
- AI & Machine learning: Help identify ways we can help businesses become more efficient on the back-office side. There are many areas of an organization that would benefit for AI, such as back office and sales.
- Robotic process automation: Such as A/P automation. Speaking with the AP department to more thoroughly understand that group and their procedures. Then identifying opportunities for cost savings and automation.
- Vendor fraud analytics: As business systems and data breadth continue to grow in volume and complexity, controlling costs and improving business processes becomes increasingly challenging and paramount. From basic data maintenance to the reorganization of complex data collections, vendor fraud analytics helps clients automate, streamline, and optimize business processes having a direct, positive impact on the client’s bottom line.
- Tax automation: Helps clients increase efficiency and effectiveness using bots to automate processes and minimize taxation. As business systems and data breadth continues to grow in volume and complexity, controlling costs and improving business processes become increasingly challenging and gradually paramount.
- Risk advisory services: Risk advisory services helps companies design and implement comprehensive global compliance programs, as well as evaluate existing policies, procedures, and controls. These services are strategically designed to address the entire continuum of risk management and apply the most forward-thinking risk management frameworks and methodologies, outlining the range of responsibilities form board-level governance, to specific roles and tasks for oversight, to execution and monitoring of all risk management activities.
It’s apparent from the services listed above, that technology-driven changes in audit and tax services appear likely to lead to changes throughout firms’ organizational structure. How will that happen? Accounting firms will need to recruit people with new skills, train existing staff to perform more analytical services, consider new billing models, and push advisory services and strategic thinking across all employees.
The transformation of the accounting profession will take a few years, but you can already see firms that are exploring more advisory services. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at where the future is headed but it’s time to start implementing some of these services into our practice. With anything in life, change is hard. But like most things, change then becomes our new normal. The question is are you ready for that change?