You’ve heard plenty about accounting client advisory services, no matter what you’ve seen it called — CAS, CAAS, client advisory, client accounting and advisory, etc. If your firm isn’t already addressing its clients’ greater financial needs, consider this your wake-up call: you’re about to be behind.
We here at Botkeeper have said a ton about Client Advisory Services over the past few years, and you’ve undoubtedly seen multiple other blogs, information sources, and emails from professional organizations and accounting vendors on the topic. As the accounting profession continues to undergo a major shift, the topic of client advisory services is evolving away from “are you doing it?” to “how are you doing it?” The reason for that is clear: the expectation is that by now, most firms will have added CAS to their practice.
Is it time to panic?
Panic, no. Take action, yes. The traditional accounting services are becoming increasingly commoditized and automated. While that might sound threatening, it’s really not: these services aren’t going anywhere, but they are representing less and less of a firm’s revenue as advisory takes hold. In AICPA’s 2021 MAP survey, CAS came in at #4 of the top 5 revenue generators for firms, and it’s aggressively growing. If your firm isn’t offering advisory, it’s not only risking losing a major revenue generator, it’s risking existing tax clients who need and want advisory as well.
CAS flows from your existing workload
Client Advisory is made possible by the automated and commoditized services your firm already offers: the insights you can glean from the numbers generated by bookkeeping and tax are vast and lucrative. Primarily, you’ll find CAS services fall under two umbrellas: financial and business advisory. Here are some examples of the services that fall under these:
Cash flow planning/forecasting
Profitability, examined holistically and by service/product lines
Investing and wealth management
Business entity structure planning
Selling, acquiring, or merging a business
Setting realistic, data-based business goals and metrics
Tax planning and strategy
Strategic business planning
Benchmarking and analysis
Business best practices
Automation is the #1 enabler of CAS for firms
If your staff is weighed down with tedious data entry and manual work, offering client accounting and advisory can be challenging. Automating compliance work like bookkeeping opens capacity and enables a closer look at the data output your staff can use in client accounting and advisory. And very soon, Botkeeper will unveil Infinite, allowing your firm to use AI to not only automate its bookkeeping, but also to gain automated financial insights you can use directly with your clients in an advisory capacity. It’s the best of both worlds, designed to expand profits, open capacity, and improve service.
Your client relationships will move from “see you next year” to “see you soon.”
How often are you able to communicate with the majority of your clients? When it comes to bookkeeping or tax services, it might be quarterly or even annually. CAS gives you the opportunity to deepen your client discussions, becoming more than just a compliance house — you’ll be a valued business partner consulting on a more regular basis with your clients. This also means more recurring revenue during the year. Combine that with value pricing and billing, and you aren’t just benefitting your firm, you’re delivering significantly higher value for the client over compliance alone.
Suppose I just don’t wanna?
There’s no crystal ball, and no one is saying your firm will die tomorrow without a functioning CAS department and focus. But one thing is sure: profits on traditional accounting services are dropping, and clients increasingly see them as a lowest-cost provider need without differentiation.
If you choose to forego CAS, you place your client roster at risk, as they begin to hear more and more from firms offering CAS about how it can benefit their businesses. CAS is in itself an important differentiator, but your ability to specialize in one or more of the services discussed above can differentiate you even more. Without it, you will almost certainly face shrinking profits and fewer clients moving forward. It’s not a risk you should take.
To kill two birds with one stone, sign up for early access to Infinite — it will provide the automation you need with the insights to help drive your firm’s CAS success. However you proceed, it’s time to make your move. Waiting any longer will just make catching up that much harder.