Today’s accounting firms are increasingly offering additional services, like financial services, to retain and attract clients. However, even though the accounting and finance industries are interrelated, there are often obstacles accounting firms must overcome when they decide to branch out into the financial services industry. Mistakes are common, according to Accounting Web, and they can have consequences as serious as losing existing clients and compromising the firm’s or accountant’s credibility.
Sacrificing Quality and Credibility
The need to provide value to clients may be why accounting firms are getting into financial services, but it doesn’t answer the crucial question of how they can do this successfully. Proper planning is essential for overcoming a number of obstacles that could turn the endeavor into a disaster.
When an accounting firm takes on the role of financial services provider, clients expect quality in all of the services the firm offers. It’s not enough for the firm to jump into offering services that its staff members don’t fully understand or to let the quality of its accounting work slip because an understaffed team is busy trying to learn a whole new set of services. Either outcome could damage the firm’s or accountant’s reputation as a trusted consultant, perhaps even prompting current clients to take their business elsewhere.
Solid preparation is the key to successfully branching out into financial services without compromising quality or the firm’s reputation. Before the firm dives into selling insurance, managing investments or personal financial planning, the accounting professionals who will handle the work must develop their expertise in these areas. They must also be sure that benefits like commissions and referral fees don’t sway their commitment to objectively help the client make the best financial decisions, Accounting Web reported.
When Clients Don’t Need, or Don’t Know About, the Services
For some accounting firms, expanding into financial services can lead to a windfall of additional business (and revenue). For other firms, though, it might mean a lot of extra work developing expertise in a new field and very little return on investment. Before accounting firms commit to offering financial services, they need to determine if their clients (existing or prospective) actually have a need for the services they intend to offer. If so, part of the firm’s strategy to implement financial services must also include marketing. If current clients or prospective new clients don’t know that the firm is expanding its services, they certainly won’t use those services.
Done well, incorporating financial services into an accounting firm’s offerings will not only add value to clients, but will enhance the accountant’s and firm’s reputation as trusted experts and advisors. As a student, learning as much about the world of finance as possible during your accounting education can help you gain a competitive edge in your future job search, particularly if you’re trying to land a job with an accounting firm that already offers, or is considering offering, financial services.