By Mike Martin
Imagine if you could not only complete your most important client’s audit or review, but also reveal how their revenue, sales, expenses and outstanding accounts compared to industry benchmarks. Now imagine that you were able to use that information to build a detailed business plan showing your client how to lower their costs, boost their profits and grow their business.
It sounds like a Herculean project that would take weeks of careful research, planning and preparation. In reality, using new technology, such as an accounting practice intelligence solution, can allow you to give this kind of information to all your clients on a regular basis, making you a valuable, trusted advisor and setting yourself apart from your competitors.
Uncovering new insights with advanced analytics
Client advisory services (CAS) are in demand. According to the second annual Client Advisory Services Benchmark Survey from CPA.com and the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section, CAS practices achieved a 20-percent growth rate in net client fees per professional during the fiscal 2019 year and the start of 2020.
“Clients expect increased value for the fees they’re paying today,” says Ron Lau, product manager with Caseware. “They don’t want you to just audit their financial statements. They expect advisory services to be included, and not meeting those expectations can impact client relations.”
Accounting practice intelligence solutions help you offer advisory services by automatically gathering and storing data from your current and historic engagements. This gives you a central, cloud-based pool of rich information you can use for advanced analytics and data visualisations, allowing you to discover and present new insights to your clients on a consistent basis over time. This helps set you apart from your competitors and boosts client retention.
Helping clients optimise operations through benchmarks
For instance, let’s say you have a manufacturing client who operates factories across the country and you want to create an interim statement to see how they’re performing compared to previous years. When you build the statement, you notice the operating expenses are high.
You could drill down into those expenses through your accounting practice intelligence report to get more detailed insights, such as the operating expenses per square foot of factory space. If your client has acquired any new factory space in recent months, you could see how it has impacted their overall operating expenses and advise your client that they should examine their operations in any newly added facilities.
“Access to more data isn’t just a nice-to-have anymore,” says Lau. “It’s required if you want to uncover more insights for your clients and offer a more valuable service.”
Accounting practice intelligence solutions can be used to quickly show how a client’s net income and revenue compare to benchmarks from similar companies over time, or they can compare key ratios, such as debt-to-equity, to assess a company’s financial health.
Snapshots in time
You can also use them to see how different clients have dealt with macro events, such as COVID-19, by performing time-based snapshots. Because practice intelligence solutions feature simple and flexible visualisation options, it’s easy to share engaging charts and graphs with your clients to help illustrate your findings. This makes it easier for you to provide valuable advice to your existing clients, grow your client base and maximise your revenue.
Benchmarking with accounting practice intelligence solutions isn’t just useful to your clients. You can use it to optimise your own internal processes by creating benchmarks for revenue per client, time to engagement completion, or training time per employee to make sure your practice is running as efficiently as possible.
Discover how you can build benchmarks and provide more insights-driven advice to your clients through an accounting practice intelligence solution such as Caseware Sherlock.
Mike Martin is a Content Marketing Writer at Caseware International. He is a former IT magasine editor with extensive experience researching and writing about enterprise technologies. At Caseware, Mike reports on today’s top issues affecting auditors and accountants and how advanced technologies are helping them drive better results.