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What are opportunities for accountants to provide advisory services?

Mary Ellen Biery
June 9, 2016
Read Time: 0 min

Accounting, audit and tax services are unlikely to be the growth engines of the accounting profession in the coming years. Indeed, consultant Allan Koltin, one of Accounting Today’s 100 Most Influential People in Accounting and one of INSIDE Public Accounting’s Most Recommended Consultants, predicts growth in these Level 1 services will range from zero to at most 3 percent over the next decade – insufficient to cover rising payroll and operating expenses.  

Growth areas are more likely to be tied to providing advisory, consultant and wealth management services or to providing outsourced functions such as CFO duties, Koltin said in an interview for the new book by Sageworks, Next-Level Accountants: Your guide to growing a firm of trusted advisors.

Clients want and value many of these types of services, which may generate revenue growth of double or triple digits, according to Koltin. Services geared toward compliance, meanwhile, are typically needed but not necessarily wanted, so clients continue to push for the cheapest options.

Technology, which is allowing more of the processes involved in providing Level 1 services to be automated, is also providing opportunities for public accountants to shift to more value-added work that plays on their core competencies, such as critical thinking and problem solving. Technology is also making it easier to scale new advisory services, such as business valuation.

Learn more: Beginner’s Guide to Providing Business Advisory Services.”

The weeks and months following the end of tax and audit seasons represent an excellent time for firm leaders to take stock of their accounting practices and the services clients may need.

One simple exercise for exploring this is to pick any client who is currently receiving only one service from the firm but with whom staff typically enjoy working. Consider whether that client potentially needs any of the following services:

▪ Advice on debt management and financing options, along with related opportunities for tax deductions

▪ Consulting on and administering employee benefit plans, such as health care and retirement benefits

▪ Consulting and training for technology solutions related to financial management

▪ Assistance complying with and reporting on sustainability, risk management, corporate responsibility and regulatory requirements

▪ Bolstering owner financial literacy or staff accounting training

▪ Guidance on international business and financial regulations and customs

▪ Business valuation services for succession planning, ESOPs, family law matters or long-term business planning

▪ Budgeting and cash flow analysis

▪ Fraud and forensic accounting services or advice on internal controls

▪ Wealth management services

This exercise – repeated with numerous clients — can help highlight advisory services that may represent opportunities for the firm, depending on current expertise and appetite for expanding into new areas. Offering some of these specialty advisory services creates opportunities to retain and cross-sell existing clients and to attract new clients looking for value-added services.

As the AICPA’s “CPA Horizons 2025” report noted, CPAs overwhelmingly believe they will need to provide a greater variety of services in the coming years. “CPAs who look beyond traditional services while continuing in their trusted advisor role will enhance their value to clients, business and employers,” according to the report.

To learn more about how CPAs or accounting professionals can begin providing additional consulting services that maximize value for business clients as well as the firm, download the whitepaper, “Beginner’s Guide to Providing Business Advisory Services.”

About the Author

Mary Ellen Biery

Senior Strategist & Content Manager
Mary Ellen Biery is Senior Strategist & Content Manager at Abrigo, where she works with advisors and other experts to develop whitepapers, original research, and other resources that help financial institutions drive growth and manage risk. A former equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires whose work has been published in

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