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Spreadsheets Suck, Say Clients

We all have that one friend whose door is always open to us. This person has been with you through all the ups and downs, and uneventful middle parts between. You trust this person because they’ve never let you down, their advice is always solid.

What if clients thought of you as that friend? What if when something happens with your client’s business you are the first one they think of to call? What if you could give them advice before things happen? No, we’re not encouraging you to dabble in astrology. We’re talking about harnessing data to give clients a fuller picture of their financial condition.

You have likely heard that the hot thing at firms these days is client advisory. CAS or “client advisory services” is defined by the AICPA as a practice where firms advise clients across a spectrum of financial and accounting related decisions with the goal of delivering higher value and deepening the trusted advisor relationship.

“Businesses [are] seeking advice and assurance on a broad range of areas beyond financial statements.”

At the recent ENGAGE 2022 event in Las Vegas, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, said the profession is at a defining moment, with businesses seeking advice and assurance on a broad range of areas beyond financial statements, from sustainability to integrated tax planning to the transformation of the finance function. At the root of this shift to a full suite of services for clients is the technology making it possible. “Technology is raising the role of the management accountant to be a more strategic role,” said AICPA Chair Anoop Mehta, CPA, CGMA.

So how do accountants send the signal to their clients that their door is open and they are a valuable resource not only for making sure tax deadlines are met but also for guiding clients through turbulent times like these and offering actionable insight into their businesses?

“Are you having substantive conversations with your clients? If you are being reactive in your interactions with clients, something needs to change.”

Ask yourself this: are you having substantive conversations with your clients? If you are being reactive in your interactions with clients – that is to say avoiding client calls, only hearing from clients once a year when it’s time to file, and responding to frequent complaints rather than anticipating your clients’ needs – something needs to change. If this is the extent of your relationship with clients, your door is not open. It’s only slightly ajar and clients don’t feel as though they can walk through it to discuss their needs with you.

Making Client Advisory Services a focus of your practice can open that door. Embracing CAS moves away from those occasional discussions about deadlines and filings and opens the door for substantive, proactive conversations with your clients. You build income statements and balance sheets with professional looking graphs that give clients insight into the meaning behind their financial data and through this you give your clients the benefit of a trusted advisor on their side to help them make sense of their business. This, in turn, drives the success of their business (and yours). Clients start to see you not as the professional who pesters them for receipts and sends them a bill but as an ally, like that friend of yours who is always there to listen when you need them most.

Alright, so you’re all in on CAS. We don’t have to convince you why it’s a good idea. You jump into Quickbooks to see what data there is to glean and oh no, all you’ve got is less-than-beautiful data to export into Excel and you know immediately this is of no use to your clients. Nothing has ever stood in the way of productive client conversations and deteriorated a client relationship more than passing five versions of an Excel file back and forth between the two of you. That’s not a conversation, it’s a terrible game of .xlsx ping pong.

“With FP&A platforms financial statements take minutes – not hours – to create and the result is attractive as well as useful.”

Enter FP&A platforms. These innovative solutions connect to cloud accounting platforms like Quickbooks and Xero, payroll systems, and even non-financial data sources like Salesforce and you can import data from spreadsheets, too. Now those financial statements take minutes – not hours – to create and the result is attractive as well as useful. With these tools, you can easily graph trends in income, net assets, and budget vs. actual that are ten times more meaningful and informative to your client than any spreadsheet could be (apologies to the Excel fans out there, you know we’re right).

There are a lot of FP&A platforms out there to choose from, but one that’s leading the pack is Jirav. In addition to reporting, dashboards, and lots of accounting platform integrations that play nice with your clients’ data, it offers advanced capabilities for departmental budgeting and workforce planning.

Deliver insights in minutes with Jirav dashboards
Forecasting just a click away with Jirav

It’s everything you need to transform your practice to one of trusted insight and advisory, something your clients need now more than ever in our stormy world.

The business environment is volatile and dynamic; supply chain disruptions, a remote workforce, rapid inflation, and rising energy costs are just a few concerns at the top of company leaders’ minds. What if you could help them sleep just a little more soundly with rich, practical data? It’s time to open that door.

Jirav delivers an all-in-one budgeting, forecasting and planning technology solution that empowers accounting firms of all sizes to grow by delivering smarter financials and faster insights. Jirav quickly integrates with your clients’ existing financial, HRIS, Payroll, CRM and other systems to seamlessly generate custom client dashboards and reports in minutes! Whether you’re just starting out on your financial planning and advisory journey or want to optimize your existing practice, Jirav is with you every step of the way. We’ll provide training, sales and marketing support, as well as key insights we’ve learned from working with over 300 accounting firms so you can take your client advisory services to new heights!