I was recently asked to give my impression of business advisory trends and developments from my recent and past work and travel in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. Some of the key developments I have observed are as follows;

Business Advisory Trends around the Globe

Major efficiencies via a paperless office is continuing to emerge. This is very big in the Northern Hemisphere particularly the US due to productivity, cost and time savings. Getting the back office right is critical to delivering front office advisory services.

Good quality document, practice and workflow management systems that create the time for business advisory service delivery. The key to this one is the attempted removal of the "Silo" effect of too many databases in a practice that do not integrate. The future has to be totally integrated solutions that communicate with each other.

Scanning systems integrated to practice management and document management software than will scan documents via Optical Character Recognition directly into taxation returns and the like.

Secure web portals to store client information both historical and business advisory and provide upload and download access to client files. This is strong in the UK and Canadian markets and in my opinion is a very effective and secure way to communicate with clients.

Developing knowledge management solutions that unlock and organise the knowledge of a firm for staff management and future sale enhancement.

Cloud solutions including on line accounting systems for clients is getting get good traction in the UK accountants market.

Developing Business Value Indications to create a disturbance by measuring business value pre and post consultations is developing in the UK and Canadian markets.

Using cloud based financial diagnostic software proactively to deliver consultations on turning numbers into knowledge, strength and weakness analysis, strategic what-if management, realisable goal seeking and projection of current drivers to see the impact on future performance results.

Managing lending covenants for clients by preforming pre-lending assessments well before the client intends to seek funds from the Banks can create a "win-win" for clients and the Lender and a new source of income for the practice.

Actively marketing business plans that contain budgets and cash flows and are sold as action plans to manage micro improvement strategies.

Delivering micro strategies to help clients collect debts, manage inventory/ WIP, understand volume and price movements etc…

Upselling business advisory services by offering "How would you like to see the financial impact of every business decision before you make it" services and scenario planning consultations.

Working towards social media (Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter) as a source of practice information and selling of business advisory services.

Developing web sites that sell the practice and its services not just inform.

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Mark Holton