By Jason Stine and Jim Buffington.
Do your customers sleep better at night thanks to your partnership? If so, it’s because you provide consulting services.
The accounting profession is moving away from simply handing out tax returns to clients and then moving away until next year’s returns are due. Taxpayers want more from their tax pros. In a recent survey conducted by Intuit, 79% of taxpayers are willing to pay more for the services of a tax professional if it translates into better financial results. Offering consulting services helps your clients achieve long-term success and provides a partnership that allows them to go to bed feeling better about their finances and can generate more revenue for your business. There’s no better time than the present to start this new partnership in consulting services and below are several questions to keep in mind as you get started.
Focus on the growth potential of your customers
It’s time to stop measuring success by the number of tax returns you’ve filed and start measuring by how much your clients have grown since they’ve worked with you. Counseling services are more about helping with financial issues that keep customers awake at night, rather than checking the amount of money in their bank accounts. The introduction to consulting with each client is essential to understand their concerns, as well as to showcase your expertise. Sit down with your customers and ask them: What keeps you up at night? What are your main financial stressors? What contributes most to these stressors? Further investigation of their concerns will allow this relationship to grow far beyond simple tax filings. Your customers will gain confidence and come to consult you more regularly.
After you start working on a solution with your client, to provide them with the best consulting services and help them succeed, you also need to ask yourself: is the new meeting cadence mutually beneficial? Do they feel they can ask more questions and get answers? Are your clients getting more from consulting services to help them achieve long-term success? By offering advisory services and exploring these key questions, you let your clients know that you are there to offer expert recommendations, help them overcome their financial problems, grow and achieve their aspirations.
Create long-term goals
With advisory services, you and your clients have more time to focus on setting long-term goals rather than the next tax return. This helps you stay in tune with your customers’ wants and needs and gives you a better understanding of what they want or need from this partnership. Do they want to franchise their business? Are they focused on paying for their kids’ college education without taking out loans? Do they want to retire with a summer house? A better understanding of what they’re working towards will allow you to offer more personalized recommendations, and regular meetings will help you keep them on track. Advice on long-term goals can help clients achieve all of their aspirations, and more.
Check your progress
It’s important to keep checking in on your progress throughout the year as you continue to work with clients. At least once or twice a year, review whether your clients have made good progress and how your consulting services have contributed to it. Did they accomplish what they wanted? Did they invest based on your recommendations and did they succeed? Have they grown throughout your partnership with them? Working on these responses will not only help your clients feel good, but it will also build their confidence in your services.
Keep them ready for anything
With the constant ability to seek advice and have goal setting meetings, clients will be better equipped to handle anything thrown at them. A pandemic? Financial crisis? Unforeseen tragedies? With the plan you have in place to help them succeed, they are as prepared as they could be. Start talking to your clients about counseling services and the benefits of keeping track of their finances and goals. By asking them what they would do in each situation and planning to improve those baseline results, you can help your clients be prepared before the crisis hits.
Your clients will get a better night’s sleep knowing you’re as invested in their financial health and success as they are. By offering consulting services, you will build better relationships with your clients and also be able to savor their success.
Jasen Stine is Head of Tax and Accounting Education at Intuit. Jim Buffington is manager of advisory services for Intuit Accountants.