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, New Zealand and United Kingdom. Some of the key developments I have observed over time 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. Failure to address this issue will dramatically reduce the available capacity required to deliver advisory services

  • Scanning systems integrated to practice management and document management software that 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. How much knowledge sits inside our heads and never gets documented?

  • Cloud solutions including online accounting systems for clients is getting strong traction around the world, in particular here in Australia. 

  • Developing Business Value Indications to create a disturbance by measuring business value pre and post consultations, is developing in all 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 performing 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 strategic planning sessions that contains 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, LinkedIn, Twitter) as a source of practice information and selling of business advisory services. Many firms are adopting a “thought leader” approach to provide introductory IP to the market and position themselves as the firm leader of choice.

  • Developing web sites that actually sell the practice and its services, not just inform. Clients can get information from anywhere these days. Do they need it from us on our websites as well? What is our unique selling proposition (USP)? Surely that should be prominent on our websites!

Finally, don’t forget to save the date for the Smithink Business Advisory Conference on 15th of February, 2018 at the Sofitel Hotel Broadbeach. Next year’s event will partner with the MYP Conference on 16 February, 2018. Two great events under the one roof!

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Mark Holton