“As we climbed higher, the horizon kept changing.” -Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
The most successful client advisory services (CAS) practices are restless. As soon as they reach a new milestone, CAS leaders pause, take stock, and then start eyeing the next one. As CAS practices grow, so do the possibilities – firms that develop new skills and capabilities tend to find new ways to put them to work for clients.
The accounting profession has only just begun to unlock what’s possible for a technology-enabled CAS practice, and many firms are still exploring the opportunities for growth ahead.
The opportunity for CAS practices with FP&A advisory
Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) advisory services present a promising growth opportunity for firms looking to expand on the success of their CAS practice. At its core, FP&A moves client conversations from “what has happened in my business?” to “what’s going to happen next?” That’s a monumental shift for the client relationship. FP&A depends on four key activities to deliver forward-looking insights:
- Planning and budgeting
- Forecasting and modeling
- Integrated financial planning
- Management and performance reporting
By incorporating any of these functions into your service offerings, clients will immediately perceive your firm's value as a trusted business advisor. Your firm will gain access to deeper client conversations, new revenue streams and the opportunity to forge new relationships. However, reaching this stage requires a well-defined strategy and an unerring focus on execution.
Six steps from leaders who have made the journey
Fortunately, there’s a proven six-step playbook for successfully launching and sustaining FP&A services. CPA.com and Jirav recently brought together some of the profession’s leaders in both CAS and FP&A in a webinar (now available on demand) to discuss the six steps in depth:
- Committing to the strategy
- Develop a multi-year strategy with long-term goals
- Invest time and commit to resourcing
- Understanding budgeting & forecasting methodologies
- Start with simple planning and progress to advanced modeling
- Develop a facilitated advisory planning cycle
- Applying technology to standardize FP&A
- Automate the actuals and structure the data
- Leverage drivers, assumptions, and workforce
- Standardize the outputs
- Identifying your first set of clients
- Identify key client attributes
- Develop an FP&A rollout strategy
- Staffing for launch and beyond
- Identify key roles and skills
- Plan for incremental growth
- Packaging and pricing
- Develop a subscription pricing model
- Integrate tiered product bundles to define service delivery
When you hear practitioners speak directly about their experiences in the webinar, you’ll understand just how important FP&A has been for their firms. For example, Dennis Najjar, cofounder of AccountingDepartment.com, said that he knew his firm needed to change when client conversations started to shift: “Clients were asking us for more for the first time in a long time. They had good, timely, accurate data, and that was great, but now they wanted to do something with it. I think the biggest threat to your practice today is if you don’t pivot toward this future.” Panelists Imre Borsanyi, CEO and founder of IB.CPA, and Hannah Smolinski, CEO and founder of Clara CFO Group, speak just as forcefully about the role FP&A has played in their firms. Together, they make a compelling case this is difficult to ignore.
The difference that FP&A can make to deliver lasting client value
For firms and CAS practices launching and scaling FP&A advisory services, they’re providing an elevated client service. By incorporating strategic foresight with historical hindsight, FP&A enables CAS practitioners to deliver practical business insights focused on driving greater value and client outcomes.
Now is the time to start down the path to your advisory future with FP&A, if your firm hasn’t already. Watch our recent webinar, How Your Firm Can Launch Higher Revenue Advisory Services via FP&A. You can also download the companion resource, Guide to FP&A.