In the past couple of months, I have visited some best-in-class companies, from retail to not-for-profit, and from Fortune 500 to owner-managed. I was able to get a real sense of the priorities and challenges affecting a range of CFOs and their organizations. I also made a mental note of what these companies do so well: being customer-focused, ensuring good controls, being agile and managing risk.
I asked them an important question: "Where do you really need help from your finance team?" The answer I most often received was, "We need a strategic partner to help us move beyond just the numbers."
This represents a significant opportunity for people playing in the Trusted Business Adviser space. The recent CGMA® (Chartered Global Management Accountant®) report, Managing Innovation: Harnessing the Power of Finance, is a useful starting point of conversation to help your clients understand the difference you can make to their business performance.
By providing sound advice on budgeting, performance reporting, investment decisions and risk management, you have the opportunity to help your clients transform their product offering and take real advantage of market opportunities. The Managing Innovation report talks about how you can:
- Create an innovative mindset
- Help your clients prepare a path to profit
- Agree upon and manage metrics
- Provide a balanced view of risk
The resources available through CGMA.org also emphasize the need to serve clients who are global. A recent AICPA PCPS survey shows that CPA firms, regardless of their size, are finding international services a booming business, with 79% of respondents projecting international growth in the next five years, including half of sole practitioners, and 71% of small firms polled.
Finally, businesses value an independent assessment of their finance process. Take a look at the CGMA Finance Impact Tool, which allows you and your client to understand the strengths of their finance processes, as well as areas where improvements can be made. Finance professionals can use the tool to uncover drivers toward positive change through actionable items that can be monitored for progress.
Effectively using these CGMA resources fundamentally alters the course of conversation with your clients and how they perceive the quality of advice you give. As a Trusted Business Adviser, you may be eligible to hold the CGMA designation and have full access the types of resources outlined above.
If you’re considering applying for the CGMA designation, there has never been a better time than now. Starting in January 2015, new applicants must pass the CGMA exam. But, by qualifying as a CGMA designation holder now, you, your staff and coworkers can access CGMA resources immediately, without having to take the exam.
You can find out more about acquiring the CGMA designation by visiting CGMA.org.
Barry Payne leads AICPA's global relationship with companies. Barry previously worked for AICPA joint venture partner CIMA, where he led global relationships with organizations such as Nestle, Diageo and KPMG. Barry also has extensive experience working with firms developing and delivering management advice services. Barry is a UK Chartered Accountant and previously held a range of audit and consulting roles.