Why are client advisory services (CAS) fueling so much growth in the accounting profession today? Businesses are encountering more change at a faster pace, and they need help making smarter decisions faster. Meanwhile, firms are seeking ways to better support these needs with the help of a host of new advanced technology that allows them to deliver and scale value-added advisory services more efficiently than ever, increasing revenue and driving firm growth. Those are some of the top reasons why our latest CAS Benchmark Survey reported a 16% median growth rate in CAS services, with more than 80% of top performing firms saying they anticipated more demand and strong pipelines.
We’ve worked with many firms in helping them shape their CAS strategy, going on to successfully launch new practices or re-envision existing ones. While each firm has its own reasons for taking this important step, certain motivating factors stand out time after time. Here are the top reasons why firms are committing to and investing in a long-term CAS strategy.
Provide deeper insights and more value to clients, reinforcing the role of a trusted and strategic advisor
The quest to deliver more client value isn’t new for firms. But the obstacles have been significant. Lack of capacity becomes a gatekeeper preventing firms from going beyond standard client deliverables.
For those who look beyond the challenges at the opportunities, they see that technology is a catalyst for transformation. The technology we’ve seen in the past is now no longer transformative, but table stakes. Things like cloud-based services have made it easier than ever to collaborate with clients on a deeper level and deploy new services. And automation has streamlined the time-consuming work that serves as the foundation for insight delivery, freeing up more time for staffers to focus on higher-value client services such as forecasting, risk management and using data to deliver faster insights to inform clients’ decision-making.
As a result, firms can simply deliver a lot more, to more clients, than at any time before. Those that have taken advantage of these tools by creating intentional people and processes around them are able to drive success in their CAS practice more quickly. They can expand beyond traditional transactional services to more forward-looking, strategic advisory services built on insight – and their clients are willing to pay. Plus, as many deepen their focus on industry verticals through their CAS practices, they are creating an engine of new business development powered by their growing reputation and expertise.
Attract and retain the best people
Finding (and keeping) talent is one of the biggest challenges facing accounting firms today. CAS is playing an important role here, too. Firms are finding that their CAS practice is leading with a technology-forward, advisory-focused approach which is highly attractive to qualified candidates for key roles. Why? For starters, technology-centric CAS practices create significant growth opportunities for staffers. Entry-level staff who typically perform manual and mundane tasks benefit from a structure that allows them to focus on gaining invaluable advisory and technology experience while still servicing clients and supporting the firm.
CAS practices are also able to attract and retain higher-caliber professionals who tend to avoid firms that rely on outdated manual processes and baseline technologies for fear of a lack of professional growth and of getting sucked into the same old ways of doing business. When they look at CAS practices who have leadership support, they see progressive firms putting forward-looking, technology-driven innovation to work. Which is exactly what top talent is looking for today.
Create sustainable relationships and revenue streams over the long-term
While some service offerings deliver a jolt of revenue only at certain times of the year, CAS delivers a predictable, ongoing revenue stream. That’s because successful CAS practices employ a subscription pricing model which requires regular client interactions. These interactions become a foundation to build client relationships and trust. When there is trust combined with perceived and communicated value, often times price is an afterthought. The most successful CAS practices meet with clients regularly—not just once a month or once a quarter but bi-weekly, weekly or even more frequently.
Just as important, CAS lays the groundwork for future growth. CAS practices that start by providing financial accounting services tend to expand into deeper insight-based advisory services over time, deepening their relationships with clients as they go. And there is a natural progression from accounting to advisory. For example, providing financial reports, processing accounts payable and managing expenses leads to cash flow management which can lead to a host of other insights-driven CAS.
Some primary examples of insights-driven CAS are spend management advisory, financial planning and analysis (FP&A) advisory and financing advisory. These value-added services become a springboard to introduce additional advisory opportunities like human capital management, wealth management, data analytics, cybersecurity, ESG advisory, SALT advisory and more. That’s a recipe for sustainable growth over time.
Ready to start your CAS journey?
If you’re joining the growing number of firms that are seeking CAS best practices to create deeper relationships with clients, attract and keep top talent and develop a new source of growth and revenue, we have good news for you. CPA.com has been leading the way in CAS for years, and we have lots of practical resources and insights to guide you.
Want to hear more? Watch the full video here.
Download your copy of the CAS Benchmark Survey Report to learn best practices based on data from firms across the country.
Visit https://www.cpa.com/cas to dig into all the on-demand webinars, whitepapers, articles, and case studies you need to make CAS a success for your firm.