Date posted: 29/09/2021 5 min read

Navigating a practice beyond a client-led advisory services model

Replace ad-hoc engagements with structured, standardised services that deliver more value. Brought to you by Fathom.

A robust business-led advisory service can not only offer real efficiencies to an accounting practice, but can also become a great facilitator of growth across other areas in a practice.

“This has been a major catalyst for growth in our firm,” says Darren Van Zyl CA, director and co-founder of Enterprise Elements, an advisory group based in Brisbane.

“We have a number of other arms to our business, and this model has been powerful for us because it’s been a catalyst for growing other services as well,” he told attendees at CA ANZ’s Practice Power Up Conference 2021.

Darren Van Zyl CAPicture: Darren Van Zyl CA.

“This model has been powerful for us because it’s actually been a catalyst for growing other services as well.”
Darren Van Zyl CA, Enterprise Elements

But to transition to an adviser-led model, firms first need to understand the differences between a client-led model and an adviser-led model.

If your clients are the initiators of one-off, sporadic advisory engagements such as three-way budgeting or KPI development, the practice is likely following a client-led advisory model, says Van Zyl. The reactive and infrequent nature of this approach can lead to difficulties with capacity planning, staff training and scalability.

How to make the transition

To help firms considering transitioning to an adviser-led model, Van Zyl explains the approach the partners have taken at Enterprise Elements, which involves a structured and productised service plan with a clearly defined set of deliverables.

He says it’s important not to overwhelm clients with over-selling all the value-adding services upfront. To avoid this, Enterprise Elements breaks down their advisory services plan into “bite-sized” outputs that are designed to create immediate engagement with – and immediate value for – clients.

They start with an in-depth analysis of the client’s financial performance history and help to diagnose potential growth inhibitors, says Van Zyl.

This is followed with strategic plan development, helping clients articulate their goals and how they might achieve them. That plan is converted into a three-way cash flow budget, all using management reporting, forecasting and financial analysis tool Fathom.

By completing these one-off engagements on a fixed fee basis, clients see the value and gain confidence in the firm, with no risk of surprise bills.

Ongoing services are then introduced, including a monthly board of management service, annual strategic plan update and periodic updates of the three-way cash flow budget.

“By taking this approach, we find there’s a very high conversion rate of clients moving from upfront services to ongoing services,” Van Zyl says.

Adding value for clients

“Initially we have a very simple, relaxed conversation about the client’s financial performance,” Van Zyl told attendees at the CA ANZ conference.

“We use Fathom to communicate that in a visual way and we get an initial uplift in engagement.”

This process of transitioning to an adviser-led model is greatly assisted by the use of Fathom. With Fathom, chartered accountants can easily identify and share insights into important metrics and help their clients make better business decisions. It’s a potent tool that empowers business advisers to use their expertise to transform their clients’ businesses.

Find out more

Darren Van Zyl recently presented on this topic in more detail and included an example of an adviser-led model, and tips on successful implementation. To watch the full recording, visit the CA ANZ partner page on the Fathom website.