How to use financial data to deliver valuable advisory services and transform your client relationships.
How to unlock the value in your data to power the development of leading advisory services
Accountants have access to – and also create – huge amounts of client financial data. Locked up in that data is highly valuable business intelligence that the leading accountants of the future will use to power their advisory services and their success.
Currently, most accountants only use that data for retrospective reporting, audit and compliance work. Our research puts that figure at a worryingly high 84%. Why are we worried about this? Because thanks to automation and cloud-based platforms such as Xero, Exact and Quickbooks, clients increasingly see reporting as low-value work. To them it seems like anyone can do it and at the touch of a button. Why should they pay for it, especially now that some firms are giving these reports away for free?
Digitally or technology mature accounting firms can afford this give-away because they are making better use of their data – to generate new revenue from advisory services. They know this is what clients really value. In fact, the Big Four have already made the switch. KPMG and Deloitte now make more money from their consultancy services than they do from audit.
It's not that accountants don't recognise the need to change. More than three-quarters of accountants we asked said that they plan to make most of their revenue from advisory within the next five years. Many just lack the means to transform. 85% believe they currently lack the technology to remain competitive in this new world.
So what tech do you need to unlock the value in your data and develop competitive advisory services?
Access to real-time data and data monitoring
Many accountants are simply drowning in financial data – the volumes are overwhelming and they can't make good use of it. That's because it's locked away in departmental silos, disparate spreadsheets and their clients' various enterprise systems. Even paper files.
Silverfin consolidates all that data, irrespective of source, into a single structured data hub, securely accessible by those who need it from wherever they are. So it doesn't matter what platforms the client uses, Silverfin draws in all their financial data, in real-time. Whenever the client makes a change or inputs new data, the accountant has it too. Now both clients and accountants have live access to a single source of truth – all real-time and historical data available on demand.
This is a foundational capability, which we call Fullsight – the first step towards digital maturity and connected accounting. But it's only when you achieve Foresight – the final of our four stages in digital maturity – that you have become a connected accountant; a proactive, trusted business partner for your clients, with advisory at your core.
Access to real-time data is critical but it's what Silverfin enables you to do with this centralised, standardised data that takes you to this highest level of digital maturity. With Silverfin, you can put markers on this data according to what is important to the client. For example, your client might be concerned about cash flow, so you mark their data for when liquidity drops below a certain level. Our platform monitors that data constantly and you can set it to automatically alert you when that threshold has been breached.
This real-time data monitoring enables you to establish an early warning system for your client, so that you can reach out ahead of time with advice and a solution. This is the kind proactive advisory that clients are willing to pay more for.
From data analysis to business intelligence
Developing advisory services rests on the ability to analyse your client financial data and turn it into business intelligence.
Silverfin provides the analytical tools to help you intimately understand each and every client – how they work, what’s important to them, what delivers success and what impacts performance.
Furthermore, it allows you to do that across your entire client portfolio so that you can benchmark performance and best practice across similar companies. This way you can identify trends and patterns to better understand how some clients are succeeding and why others are performing poorly. You can then use these insights to inform your advice.
With these intelligence capabilities, you have reached the level of maturity where you can begin to offer advisory services based on historical data. We call this stage Insight. But it's at the final stage, Foresight, where you evolve from looking at the past to forecasting and planning for the future – developing predictive intelligence and Silverfin gives you the means to get there.
Seeing the future and data-driven advisory services
Predictive intelligence is the ability to see future trends and advise clients proactively on strategic activity to mitigate risk or capitalise on opportunities. Silverfin's analytical tools and capabilities enable you to see trends in the data that define the future so that you can develop a strategy to benefit your clients.
For example, you know that upcoming regulatory changes are going to impact a number of your clients. However, every client is different and has their own needs and issues to address. With Silverfin, you have an unprecedented depth of knowledge about them. Now you can pinpoint exactly the kind of advice each client needs and when it would be of most use to them. You can also develop new services around these insights, knowing what would be of likely value to your clients in the future. Not only can you provide them with timely advice today but you can offer solutions to problems they don't yet know they have.
Build these factors into Silverfin's automatic alert system and the platform will proactively prompt your team and your client into action when it has the most impact.
Start on your path to Foresight today and see how you can use data and data analytics to advise clients, predict the future and develop new advisory services delivered with the help of technology. It’s time to use technology to win in the new rules of accounting.