Business owners hate the ‘paperwork’ of the business; increasingly software solutions, especially SAAS platforms, are cutting a swathe through the paperwork of SMBs. No software solution, however, can address the individual business owner’s challenges especially when it comes to business finance – managing cash flow, financing inventory, maintaining margins. Far from being advice-only, business finance is core to the ‘trusted advisor’ role. Too few are prepared to tackle the business finance question – it’s the elephant in the room.

Proactive bookkeepers and accountants are the closest to their clients and in touch with their needs, and therefore in the best position to increase their income and the positive outcomes created for clients. It’s a strong case against being a doormat; it’s really about what’s best for the two of you for the long term. It’s about being proactive.

Talking in practice

Those firms that endeavour to have more conversations with clients are in a better place to have a positive impact on the finances of the business.

Are there any services which you would like to add that you don’t currently offer? Which ones? Do you have a plan to bring those services to market, to your existing clients? Do you have information on what is best practice? Are you confident and competent enough in the soft skills to take on the business finance questions?

Build soft skills

Technical skills and knowledge of business finance are essential skill sets for the trusted advisor going forward. So too it an appreciation of the technologies at play in the accounting eco system. But soft skills like communication, team-building ultimately will catapult you into taking on the robust role of trusted advisor. Indeed, developing your own and your team’s soft skills will be the key differentiator and enabler for your firm for 2017, setting new benchmarks for communicating internally and externally with business clients and vendors.

More communications touch points with clients in day-to-day dealings and less time manually inputting data and crunching numbers, should mean firms find it easier to assess business needs. While there is no ‘one size fits it all’ solution for these needs, there is almost certainly a conversation that can take place around a suite of services that can be customised to a client.

Taking advantage of the touchpoints

Assume you have an expertise in managing accounts receivable and you want to ‘sell’ this service to existing clients who may not have subscribed to this level of service from you. Your engagement with a client will no doubt have built in a regular review and this presents as a seamless intersection for you to navigate and probe the deeper business finance issues confronting the business owner.

You are already in a position of trust so this is no big deal.