Accountants know clients benefit from planning. Clients know it, too. And yet still, somehow, getting them engaged in that process can be a challenge. Capital advisory services can play a part in persuading them.
In our new guide to future-proof your clients’ business with Capital Advisory, we argue that strategic planning should ideally be carried out regularly but that, as entrepreneurs are busy people, they need an external influence to keep them on track. The accountant is well placed to do that, if they approach the task the right way.
Why does planning sound so much like hard work?
Perhaps it’s our collective memory of too many unproductive ‘planning days’ with bad coffee in stuffy rooms.
Maybe it’s because, to some people, it sounds like you’re asking the impossible – where will the company be in 12 months time, or five years, or a decade? Entrepreneurs tend to be ‘doers’ by nature, living in the now.
It could simply be that there are problems they don’t want to face, like those people who never check their bank balance and refuse to budget because knowing how much they’re overdrawn will spoil the party.
Rebranding planning as time to think and reflect is one trick. It sounds less like homework (or detention) and more like a break from the pressures of the day to day. Of course there’s a risk there that it just never happens because there will always be a crisis that needs tackling today.
What won’t work? Lecturing, hectoring and repeating the same message with progressively more irritation probably won’t get you anywhere.
Instead, it’s about
demonstrating your expertise and experience
building trust – making them want to take your advice
underlining the costs of failing to plan – stories and case studies
selling the real benefits of planning – evidence of prior success
breaking it down into manageable tasks.
On that last point, engaging empathy is important. What is keeping clients awake at night right now? ‘Planning’ feels vague; ‘coming up with a strategy for limiting the impact of the withdrawal of Government support schemes’, on the other hand, is both specific and urgent.
Planning as the antidote to stress
The ultimate way of taking control, even if so much remains up in the air – is a strong pitch, too.
Though it’s less fun again than pure planning, assessing risk and taking time to think about worst-case scenarios, as well as being good practice, can also be a stress reducer. Confront your fears and neutralise them.
It’s remarkable how often the items on a risk register turn out to be low likelihood, low impact, when they’re considered calmly as opposed to in a cold sweat at two in the morning.
Even items that are high likelihood, high impact feel less terrifying when you’ve had time to think about contingencies and countermeasures.
Again, when it comes to selling the risk assessment process to reluctant clients, having examples at hand of how it has saved the day for others can be helpful.
One final suggestion: don’t underestimate the power of technology and new tools to get people engaged in housekeeping jobs. Part of the success of Xero is down to the fact that it sometimes does things that feel almost magical and is positively inviting to use. Who ever thought people would think bookkeeping was sort of cool?
In a similar vein, Capitalise’s Monitor dashboard provides accountants with insights to help them identify areas of potential strategic risk for their clients, and suggestions for improving working capital management. By bringing them new information and fresh insight, backed by data, with solutions in reach, you’ve got a powerful lever for moving them into planning mode.
Book a demo to find out how Capitalise can help you deliver a capital advisory service efficiently and easily.