Time savings – just when you need it
How an electronic tax return reader provides more time for advisory services
As accountants and their staff scramble to complete client W-2s and 1099s to meet other deadlines related to the start of tax season, it’s hard to see an end to the crazy schedules.
However, before you know it, it will be time to meet with clients to conclude your work and present their tax returns and financials. And surprisingly, even though clients may have come to you for tax work, the top service they desire from you probably isn’t compliance-oriented. According to a survey of owners of small- and medium-sized businesses by The Sleeter Group, people who currently engage a CPA most often cite business planning and business strategy as the services they desire.
Accountants can strengthen client relationships and “plant seeds” for growing new business throughout the year by using face-to-face time with clients (whenever it occurs) to cross-sell more advisory services. Admittedly, however, most accountants until April don’t even have time for a meal away from the desk, let alone time to leisurely craft a plan for and offer business planning or business analytics to help owners monitor and improve their businesses.
Look for ways to utilize technology and standardize processes in order to simplify reaching out and to make providing advisory services more achievable:
▪ Financial analysis software helps accountants provide clients with a deeper understanding of their financial health. Some solutions require accounting firms to manually enter data from a tax return in order to generate a dashboard report of the business performance. Other solutions, however, can auto-import data from electronic tax returns, allowing accountants to build, in less than 5 minutes, a customized financial report with benchmarking and performance insight.
Instead of spending hours manually inputting and validating data, which can be especially tedious and frustrating during busy times, an accountant can quickly provide a copy of this report as a value-added service on top of the tax return. Another option is to use the report later in the year to jump-start discussions about available services. Utilizing an automated solution for the data input and analysis can improve realization rates on these advisory services, because the tax return reader reduces errors and inconsistencies that may occur during manual entry.
“Having worked with accounting firms for 15 years, we understand that a big hurdle for many accountants is getting client data into an accessible format, especially during tax season,” said Sageworks Chief Executive Officer Scott Ogle. “That’s why we created the Electronic Tax Return Reader to become an integral component of our ProfitCents and Valuation solutions. We anticipate this enhancement will save accounting firms a significant amount of time, making it easier for them to provide high-value consulting services to their business clients.”
▪ Developing a standard set of questions to consider asking all clients as they meet with you to sign tax returns can save time and energy – something that could be in tight supply toward the end of tax season. If you don’t want to come up with your own questions this year, utilize a template that provides space to take notes to remind yourself later in the year what services can be offered. These conversations before or after tax season showcase your firm’s strengths and insight, and can lead to more revenue.
Download a complimentary one-page guide, “Before and After Tax Season: How to Increase Revenue and Add Value?”