Tech in Business Advisory - what do you need?

The firm of the future has to move from compliance to delivering advisory services is a commonly heard statement. Whilst compliance is still the bread and butter of many firms, it could be contended that business advice is an essential part obt-product of the compliance process. But what do you and your clients consider to be “business advice”, and which (if any) tech tools are essential to deliver such a service? 

Far too often, we see accounts prepared from a trial balance supplied, with little or no sense checking of the underlying figures. Rubbish in – rubbish out. We recently saw an example of this, where the client was using cloud accounting software and the accounts were being prepared in December – nearly 9 months after the year end. That was the sole product – some accounts for Companies House. Had the turnover been looked at post the balance sheet date, it would have been obvious that the business should have registered for VAT shortly after the year end in May 2018! Surely this falls into the category of basic business advice as well as compliance 

How money was being extracted from the company had not been discussed either, and nor was the treatment of motor expenses – company car, own car, mileage claims, VAT on mileage etc. Again, are these not fundamental advice basics? All of these require spending some time discussing and fact finding, or even just looking at the accounting records. It is possible to provide this advice without specific tools., although it can be advantageous to provide reports to quantify the benefits. For example, paying a low salary and extracting dividends rather than paying large salaries.  

This could be labelled “tax planning”, but could equally be tagged as “business advice”? 

It is much easier to provide advice with any badge attached when the accounting records are well maintained and kept up to date. How is data being entered and processed at the moment, and could this be automated in any way? How are debtors chased? What payment services are offered? Will there be sufficient cash available going forward? Which products or services are the most profitable? Is there any reason why you would not class these as “business advice”?  

Tech add-ons could well help change the methodologies, and there are many software products available for each of these categories … and many more! What if? Scenarios, graphs and chartsmanagement information etc are further products. 

But how far do you need to go to package a “business advisory” service? And how far does it go over and above the pretty fundamental items mentioned above? 

What tech tools do you use to provide advisory services? 

What tech tools do you wish you had but have not yet found which would help in delivery advisory services? There are hundreds of products out there – and not enough time to search for them all or try them!