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Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Offering Client Accounting and Advisory Services (CAAS)

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Offering Client Accounting and Advisory Services (CAAS)

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As an accounting professional, the allure of “advisory” in client accounting and advisory services (CAAS) is inevitable. You have the necessary skills and insights, and you are brimming with energy to help your clients attain unprecedented success. Client accounting and advisory services (CAAS) seem like the right path to take. The industry-specific PCPS Client Advisory Services Benchmark Survey, 2022, by CPA.com & AICPA, projecting a median CAS growth rate of 15% for 2023, further attests to your belief. However, just as with anything with high rewards, there is high risk associated with CAS/CAAS, too. Some of the soaring peaks of client accounting and advisory services can pull in even the most seasoned advisors.

In spite of the scary undertone of the last statement in the paragraph above, the accounting leaders are passionate and rather fond of offering client accounting and advisory services (CAAS) to their clients. Thus, perfectly creating the need for this blog. With so much literature surrounding client accounting and advisory services (CAAS) floating around the web, it’s only fair to empower our fellow accounting professionals with the knowledge and strategies to navigate the most common pitfalls around client advisory services. If you are an accountant or an accounting leader planning to introduce CAAS as part of your services, stay with us till the very end and reap the insights and strategies for your competitive advantage. With that, let’s begin.

Intuition ≠ Insight

Every business need client to survive. Clients not only help in revenue generation but also open new doors for you to grow and thrive. Thus, guiding clients toward success becomes almost sacrosanct for every business owner. However, to establish an impactful and fruitful association with your clients, you need to understand clients’ exact needs, and wants and the projects you are taking up.

It’s good to have good intuition. Most of us have good instincts; however, equating your intuitions with insights can be a costly mistake in the business world. Assuming you know your clients’ business, needs and wants without proper assessment is a sure path to downfall.

Here’s how you can avoid it –

  • Outcomes first, then scope: Work with your clients closely to first understand the outcomes they want. After that prepare the scope of work to define their needs, deliverables, and timelines. Document all of them in the form of well-defined goals and revisit those goals throughout the project duration.
  • Leverage Data-driven Insights: When outlining business goals and scope, leverage the advanced data analytics tools to validate your predictions and assumptions. Having data to validate your assumptions will help you chart a clear growth path.
  • Know Your Capabilities: In an attempt to reach clients fast, accounting firms and CPA practices can fall prey to overlooking their capabilities and end up overpromising. Thus, before engaging with any client/prospect, always have a clear picture of your capabilities in terms of what you have and what you can effectively deliver.

Don’t Be A “Know-it-All”

If, as an accounting firm, you are starting your CAAS journey, make sure that you embrace your limits, and unless you build a capability to support, do not promise all the things to all the clients. Conduct thorough research on the client’s needs and wants and tailor your solutions/offerings accordingly. Being a know-it-all can significantly hamper your growth, especially when you are just starting in the CAAS world; the good thing is that this pitfall can be avoided.

Here’s how you can avoid it –

  • Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): When looking for clients for CAAS, you may find out that the clients you already are serving are not ideal for your advisory services. This is why you need to have an open mind and look at the clients very granularly. You can narrow your clients down by company size, the type of advisory services they need, and even the mode in which you can reach them. This is the first concrete step in crossing the CAAS Chasm.
  • Market Research: Take a closer look at the industries you want to serve, the market trends, and the needs of your potential clients. This will help you tailor your services to the customer’s specific needs.
  • There’s No Harm in Saying No: During your CAAS journey, you will often find yourself needing more resources/acumen to serve a client. In such situations, do not be afraid to say know; there is no harm in it. But why turn away new clients when they exactly fit your Ideal Client Profile? You’d want to leverage the capacity growth engine that Datamatics Business Solutions provides.

One-Size-Fits-All Fallacy

In the unique world of client accounting and advisory services (CAAS), it’s easy to fall for the one-size-fits-all fallacy. If you do not understand the intricacies of advisory services, every client requirement may seem the same, irrespective of their industry, business size, and exact business ask. Even the most seasoned accounting firms learnt it the hard way that offering the exact solution to all is a sure shot recipe for bad reputation. However, with the power of data under their belt, more and more firms have started to tailor their solutions based on their client’s exact needs and wants. You, too, can do the same. However, to do so, you need to avoid the one-size-fits-all fallacy.

Here is how you can avoid it –

  • Carve Your Niche: As a CAAS provider, you need to quickly identify the advisory services that you are best at. Simply put, find your strengths and focus on them. Whether it’s financial advisory, tax planning advisory, or just a specific CAAS-centered service, focus on the best outcomes you can deliver. This will offer maximum value to you and help you become profitable.
  • Offer Personalization: Nothing breaks the mundane like personalization. You can leverage it for your practice as well. Tailor your advisory services based on industries, business sizes, geographies, and other parameters that help you stand out.
  • Upskill To Upgrade: As per a recent survey by Wolters Kluwer, only 7% of small accounting firms believe that they are getting 100% value from their existing technology stack. This points towards a clear skill gap, which prevents organizations from upgrading and limiting their service offerings. This is why it is better to upskill your staff, upgrade your tech stack, and upgrade your service offering.

Practice Makes CAAS Advisory Perfect

As with any other field, practice is the key to success with CAAS advisory. That, plus a constant urge to leverage advanced accounting technologies, creating a global team, a keen eye for details, and the ability to leverage data-driven insights, differentiates a standalone accounting firm from an accounting firm with effective CAAS capability. While the pitfalls above and the way to overcome them might help you get started with your CAAS advisory services, you must go through rigorous practice to master the art of CAAS advisory. If you want to kickstart your CAAS advisory journey, we have the experts and the expertise to help you get started. Click Here to book a no-obligation consultation call, and our experts will reach out to you with a solution aptly tailored for you.


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