Accounting advisory services is an umbrella term for a wide variety of services, so what does it exactly entail? While being an advisor can encompass a wide array of things, in this case it most often means assisting or performing financial services that the client does not understand or does not have the time to complete themselves.
It is important to reinforce your role as an advisor, clients will often resort to google search to assist them and this can be a pitfall of businesses as there is a vast amount of bad advice on the internet if the client is not careful. It is important to be trusted and respected by your clients and there are a few things that you should do as an advisor to reinforce your role. This includes: offering advice on relevant information to the client, coaching your clients to help decisions with their businesses and assets, giving a fresh perspective in order to provide different solutions for your clients and providing affirmation for your clients decisions. In order to do this effectively, it should also be a point of emphasis to meet regularly with your clients so that a good relationship can be maintained.
With all that being said, what specific services will you do as a financial accounting advisor? The first thing to remember is that you are a part of a team with your clients and your successes are intrinsically to their successes. Specific services that you can provide include: cash flow forecasting, revenue projections for future planning, and budget vs. actual reviews. While this may seem like a lot, with the help of modern technology, accounting services can be provided in a simple and clear manner for both clients and advisors. Wealth Management Forward is able to provide a top-of-the-line experience with online softwares that consolidates client finances in one place for convenience and clarity.
What Clients Look for in an Accountant
When providing financial accounting advisory services, it is important to remember that clients often first search for help because their business has become too large for non-expert to manage their finances. There are many things that business owners will decide between hiring an in-house accountant or reaching out to an accounting firm. The most important factor for many entrepreneurs is trust – an accountant is entrusted with the financial future of the business and if there is no trust, then there is nothing. Many businesses will hire an accounting firm or accountant as an outside consultant at first.
This is a very viable strategy as outside firms, such as Wealth Management Forward, can often provide streamlined services with their own software that provides a better experience for the client than an in-house accountant. At this level, the financial accounting and advisory services that will be provided often are: tax return preparation, preparing financial statements—including the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows—and offering problem-solving advice.
Because these are very important services for a business to thrive, often the client will look for certain qualifications in their accountant to ensure the best choice. The first thing many clients should and will consider are certifications; CPA or CMA certifications are a huge distinguishing factor for clients. Additionally, clients will often look for industry expertise that pertains to their business. Lastly, another consideration the client may have is the size of the accounting firm: smaller firms provide a more personal experience as compared to the big four accounting firms and it is up to the client to decide what they need.
Financial Advisor Training Programs
Now is a better time than ever to become a financial advisor. Regardless of age or experience level, there are several paths that one can take to become a financial advisor.
The first path that an individual can take to become a financial advisor is attending a college or university. Enrolling at a traditional college or university will not only reward an individual with an undergraduate or graduate degree, but will also provide training to become a financial advisor. For the undergraduate level, this means selecting a business or finance major as well as taking as many financial planning courses as possible. If you already have a undergraduate degree, a specialized graduate degree, such as a masters in business administration or financial planning would be advantageous to complete.
Another viable option is in-house training that is provided by banks and investment firms such as Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, or Wells Fargo. All of these firms offer extensive in-house training programs. You have to apply to these programs, but if you are accepted then you will have the opportunity to complete the training program and create your own financial advising office that is directly affiliated with and supported by the firm that provided your training. These programs will teach you about the investment products you’ll be selling and the software that you’ll use as a salesperson in preparation for the Series 7 and 66 exams.
Additionally, a good route is getting the certified financial planner (CFP) designation as it is highly regarded in the financial sector. One caveat is that you must have a bachelor’s degree in order to obtain the CFP designation. The degree can be in any area but it is required that you take specific courses regarding tax planning, interpersonal communication and professional conduct. If you do not have the specific coursework completed, there are several programs that you can enroll in that will satisfy your needs.
Lastly, a path that helps any individual to become a financial advisor is working in a financial advisory firm. Financial advisors assist individuals with investments, retirement and tax planning, as well as with other services such as life insurance and annuities. While these are all important as a financial advisor, success is measured one way by the number of clients that you have; this places a premium on social skills. The good news is that financial advisors are in high demand right now due to an increase in the number of people retiring early in their careers.