Positioning your firm as a trusted advisor

Upon returning from a trip to Boston in 1733, Benjamin Franklin was impressed by what he learned about their fire prevention methods.  So much so that he supposedly wrote to The Pennsylvania Gazette about how Philadelphia should prepare itself for a fire.

He shared a famous expression in his letter – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

What he meant was that proactively preparing and preventing what could be a major disaster would be much more valuable and cheaper than not doing so and instead experiencing what could be horrific consequences.


Inevitably, when a topic like this comes up questions arise about whether or not the investment is truly worthwhile.  Unfortunately, we have examples to educate us about what happens if we wait…

One of the most famous was what happened to Chicago in 1871.  It was referred to as The Great Chicago Fire that killed approximately 300 people, destroyed 17,000 structures and left more than 100,000 residents homeless.

Sounds awfully terrible and insanely expensive to me.  I think I’ll take the proactive approach.



Interesting story, but what does this have to do with my accounting firm becoming a trusted advisor?

The accounting industry is shifting away from the old reactive, compliance driven model in favor of a more proactive, advisory service arrangement.

Your clients have consumed reactive services around everything from tax to audit and are now looking for more.  Your firm needs to evolve.


Why are clients demanding accounting firms offer services that are more proactive in nature?

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Your client wants you to proactively find and resolve issues before they turn into major problems.  This way, something can be done to avoid major pain, penalties, fines, you name it.  Wouldn’t you agree that this is a better approach then simply pointing out what went wrong after it was too late?


OK, I get it, but what does my firm actually need to do?

You need to take a more consultative approach to providing value for your clients.  Look for opportunities to be proactive with preparing them for what’s coming.  You know their business and what they should be doing, but they are counting on you to let them know.  The days of waiting for them to pickup the phone and tell you all about what they need help with are long gone.  The longer your firm waits to make this shift the more ground you’ll lose in the market.


I would love nothing more, but my team is overwhelmed with what’s already on their plate.  Where will this time come from?

Your team is tied up focusing on time-consuming, boring, error-prone admin work which is among the lowest value add service they can offer your clients.  You need to free them up from this burden and repurpose this time for them to focus on providing high impact, highly profitable services by proactively engaging with your clients.


The best way to get this time back is to look for investments you can make in automation and technology.  If you or your firm needs more help with this book a strategy call with me or read more about my roadmap service to get started immediately with freeing up your team and turning your firm into a trusted advisor.



PS. Read more about the the Great Chicago Fire and Ben Franklin’s letter to The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Talk soon,

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