You know good bookkeeping is at the heart of healthy financials—and client advisory services (CAS), too. Whether you’re serving individuals or businesses, maintaining accurate, up-to-date ledgers and creating timely financial reports lie at the core of what you have to offer your clients.
But what do these basic, bread-and-butter tasks have to do with CAS? And how can you use your bookkeeping talents and experience to guide your clients and help them make smart decisions?
Here are seven key client advisory services to offer using simple, day-to-day bookkeeping.
If your client is planning to make major business purchases this year, one of the most helpful things you can do is plan them well.
Timing a big expense poorly can mean a dip in cash flow, and we all know how hard it can be to recover from that. Additionally, if your client waits too long to make a purchase, they could miss out on a tax deduction that benefits them. Alternately, rushing through a purchase during a lean year may not make sense when they’re anticipating higher sales in the future.
Cash flow management can be especially difficult for newer businesses still paying off startup costs. But they aren’t the only ones who have to be concerned. Individuals, too, can risk pushing their debt into unmanageable territory if they neglect cash flow and rely on credit.
Clients pay you to see the big picture. To the average business owner, taking information from cash flow statements, aligning it with monthly profit trends, making tweaks—it can all seem overwhelming.
But it doesn’t help if cash flow leaks are hindering their ability to stay in the black or even threatening their business. With simple bookkeeping outputs, you can analyze how cash is moving and save your clients a lot of worries.
Smart Management of Cash-on-Hand
Cash-on-hand is the lifeblood of a business. That’s especially true for seasonal ventures—landscapers, Airbnb hosts, or clients in the tourism industry. For them, managing cash-on-hand is all about maintaining an even balance throughout the year, keeping the money moving without putting any of their accounts in the red, or dipping into credit reserves that are better left alone.
Simple cash flow statements, along with historical information from ledgers, can let you spot unwanted blockages in client cash-on-hand and clear them up. Some tweaks to the invoice cycle or smarter expense planning could be all it takes to keep more cash in your client’s pocket. That means less stress for them and more insurance against off-season cash shortages.
Loan Prep and Favorable Terms
Your client may go into business planning to secure a loan later on and expand—without ever planning on how they’d secure the loan. That pie-in-the-sky planning can leave small business owners floundering, especially if they don’t have a complete set of books. In that case, financial projections and business plans are also nowhere to be seen.
This is when you come in and coach your clients on loan application prep. They won’t know how much to apply for, or even whether they can pay for it. You can take their records, make projections and show them what’s reasonable.
You can also ease their burden by putting together a loan application package for them. Again, bookkeeping records are key here. These records will also give you the tools you need to help your client understand the terms of the loan and how it will impact their business.
Whether your clients are taking bids from Silicon Valley or putting together a business plan to impress their inlaws, courting investors is a complex dance. For some of your clients, it may be old hat. For the rest, you could be the shining beacon in a dark sea of term sheets and convertible notes.
When bringing on investors, businesses need accounting support from their first pitch deck to signing on the dotted line and beyond. You can help by creating financial projections, as well as an up-to-date info package for potential investors.
Backtracking a bit, if your clients are interested in bringing on investors, your job starts well before they go out to raise. One of the most valuable advisory services you can provide is helping them plan how much investment money they need and how to use it. While your expertise and insight play a vital role, all the advice you’ll provide is rooted in day-to-day bookkeeping and financial statements.
Clients need help planning how and when to deduct expenses. They also need guidance planning tax payments, choosing how to depreciate assets, and carrying forward tax credits.
Clearly, the tax system plays a big role here; your knowledge of tax code and best practices helps you guide clients to the best decisions for their businesses.
But it’s in the general ledger that you’ll find the most vital clues. Which deductible expenses does your client rely on to keep their business running? How can they be bundled or broken up to provide the best tax advantage?
Financial projections also play a role here, as you do the math on deductibles and determine where and when your client will most benefit from a lighter tax burden.
Finally, as you know, there’s no way to accurately file taxes without up-to-date books. You can let your client put off bookkeeping, then come to you with a pile of receipts and a case of the tax season jitters. Or you can keep their books running smoothly throughout the year, so the moment the new financial year begins, they’re ready to file.
Better Inputs Lead to Better Outputs
In client advisory services, the focus is often centered around some version of reporting. Whether it’s a forecast, dashboard, or monthly reporting package with a phone call—the client deliverable is dependent on reporting.
And those reports are completely dependent on high-quality, efficient bookkeeping. The inputs lead to the outputs.
Think about dashboard reporting as an example. This is often touted as a tool business owners need to have to keep a pulse on their key metrics.
But if their data is rarely up to date, the dashboard at any given moment is meaningless. It’s only valuable if accurate data is moving to the dashboard consistently and reliably.
By streamlining your bookkeeping, you not only have more time for advisory—you also have more options. You now have a variety of ways to show the client how they’re doing and provide business performance insights from there.
Bookkeeping gives you the raw material you need to provide your clients top-notch advisory services. The closer to hand you keep your client’s books, and the more accurate and timely they are, the better your raw material—and the better the CAS you can offer.
The best way to keep your client’s books in check so you can focus on best-in-class advisory is to harness the power of technology. Automation can save you time, increase your accuracy and productivity, and simply put: it will transform your firm.
Right now, we’re offering an incentive to check out automation over a short meeting with one of our specialists. Meet with us and we’ll send you $25—no strings attached. Just click below to get in touch, and we’ll introduce you to the Botkeeping way of life!