XU Magazine - Issue 21

This isn’t advisory. This isn’t compliance. It’s something bigger.

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Written by Hannah Dawson

The industry shouts pretty loudly that advisory is the answer to all problems. But, is it? Or, more specifically, is it the answer for everyone? Futrli CEO and Founder, Hannah Dawson, has a game-changing solution to help you serve the portion of your portfolio that advisory just doesn’t fit…

We’re sorry.

The industry, over the last few years, has got a little too loud shouting about our favorite #buzzword: advisory. And that’s us included. We’ve all been so excited about the value these services could provide that we’ve been going a little too fast. We’ve all had good intentions. And there’s no doubt that advisory has done a lot of good. Countless firms have made a huge difference to businesses all over the world. We cherish those success stories.

But, we can’t ignore situations where things haven’t quite worked out. We’ve been trying to encourage you to pick up advisory services with all of your clients, but we’ve come to the conclusion that advisory’s not always the right answer, for you or them.

Research with our Futrli partners across the globe indicates that traditional ‘advisory’ is an essential service for, typically, around 10% of your portfolio. Why? Because these are your bigger clients. They need management accounts, board reports, scenario planning. They’re also able to dedicate the time and money needed for such a service. It’s essential for their operations and they know the value of data-driven decision-making. This is where tools like Advisor have made this easy for over 1,500 firms globally for many years now.

But, 50% of businesses are still failing by their fifth year of business. It’s astonishing, despite all the advancements in technology and services over the last 20 years, the success rate of these businesses hasn’t improved. As much as you want to help – you can’t. These businesses aren’t fit for what ‘advisory’ has become.

Not to mention the demand for traditional advisory places both on your firm and your clients. A lot of your clients won’t have spare funds to pay for these services. And you don’t have the time and resources to spend on every one of your clients. You’d need to duplicate your firm five times over.

They require an entirely new approach, and so do you.

This leftover 90% is what we’d call your ‘core’. They’re the largest chunk of your portfolio, so it’s concerning to know they’re also the ones most at risk. It’s likely that they’re currently compliance clients. But they need protecting and strengthening, just like your advisory clients. In fact, they could need your support even more than your advisory clients. They don’t have a data team or a dedicated finance team. These businesses are the ones taking the biggest risks, facing make-or-break decisions with limited resources – a dangerous combination.

And it’s not just dangerous to them. If they’re at risk, then so are you. Acquiring clients is an expensive exercise. You’d do much better to retain them, protect them and then increase the opportunity within your core to offer relevant and timely help, which is of course what advisory actually is. It’s help.

Plus, the mission of you and everyone at your firm, is business success. It’s your reason for being in business. So, if you’re not able to help, you’re not fulfilling that goal. And your clients are struggling. That’s bound to take a toll on team morale.

Beyond that, you have the larger scale effect. These aren’t just faceless businesses. They’re families, communities, and lives. You have their customers, their suppliers, their investors and supporters to worry about. The closing of a business is so much more than just a boarded-up storefront.

To change the 50% failure statistic I mentioned earlier, we first need to understand why these businesses are failing. Yes, ultimately, we all know it’s cash flow, but how do they get to that point? Well…

Most business owners firefight their way through every day. They reactively tackle the issues that scream the loudest, not necessarily the issues that actually need their attention. They often start the day in their inbox, reactively dealing with supplier and customer needs, and then the team member that knocks on the door and so on. It’s exhausting, but it also means they’re existing deep in their business, and not on it.

And it goes further than that. Working reactively as they are and making fast decisions, they have no visibility or time to consider the future impact of the decisions they’re making every day.

The result? There could be a fire burning in their business or one about to set alight, and they wouldn’t know. They could be damaging their future success and they wouldn’t know. No matter business owners never tend to shut off. They don’t know if they’re okay or not.

And that’s where we came from. The mission to help business owners simply feel okay.

A struggle for businesses to survive and a struggle for firms to really help.

Could something entirely new be designed to help these other businesses?

Support and real-world insight into the hands of your clients, in a language they understand. Futrli Platform’s built for businesses to use for themselves – so it’s hands-off for you. No implementation. No set up. No pressure. They need short, snappy information, laid out in front of them. Our new collection of products, Futrli Platform, is sewn together with an actionfeed. Newsfeeds are a known and understood format of presenting information, they’re the simplest and most accessible way to display constantly updating information.

Actionfeed acts as a round-up with the most important information in pole position. By dedicating a few minutes a day to scroll through their feed, your clients will know where their business is, the problems they need to face, and the things they have to celebrate. It’s a security blanket and a security guard in one.

There are different products within the platform, each one is designed to enable your clients to take control of a different part of their business until they’re fully in control. But the one that’s most relevant to your entire portfolio is Flow. Why? Because problems with cash flow are some of the most damaging issues facing all businesses.

Because of that, Flow’s the first to leave the blocks. Its aim? To put your clients’ daily cash flow in their hands. With easily accessible, AI-driven updates on their customer and supplier behavior; getting paid and feeling secure is now possible. Your effort? Connecting their accounts package, hitting send on their invite and that’s it. We onboard them and take care of them from there.

So, how does this new approach work for your firm? The benefit comes in three parts:

  1. Short-term – it will elevate your firm and protect your entire client base. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re all here.
  2. Medium-term – it will educate your portfolio about their businesses. And in their learning, they’ll have questions. Questions they’ll ask you.
  3. Long-term – it will increase your advisory fees as they see the value in the advisory services you offer. A win-win.

It’s a gateway. Irrespective of where your core is in their journey with you, one thing will fundamentally change. They’re being educated on their business. When they have questions or need help, who are they going to ask? You.

That provides the basis for your relationship going forward. One day they’ll become part of your 10% (which, therefore, will become much more than ten percent!). It’s organic development. You’ve grown a relationship. No selling involved. We’ve built Futrli Platform to promote collaboration, with our Slack and Gmail integrations you’ll be two clicks from your client.

This is how you get your clients to recognize the value of your services.

Suddenly your opportunity to engage with clients who were distant and at risk has transformed into a trusted relationship. And that’s when you move them onto Futrli Advisor. As they grow, and as their knowledge of their business grows, so will their hunger for more insight.

Those clients who were unengaged will be asking for help. It may be simple, like a credit control strategy, or it may be more complex reporting or scenario planning, but again, it will grow. Slowly introduce them to more services. You’ll name it, they’ll want it. And again, breathe a sigh of relief, you’re working on a relationship, not a sales pitch.

Our takeaway: you don’t need to provide advisory to the 90% – it doesn’t fit them. And we’re sorry for saying you did. But you do need to provide something. And we think this is the best way to go about it. The tool’s ready to go. We’ll change the tide on business success and on your success too. This is the next step. Let’s make business success simple.

Find out more…

Discover more about Futrli’s solutions for accountancy firms and their clients by heading to: futrli.com/solutions/accountancy

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About the author

Hannah Dawson

Founder & CEO, Futrli

Hannah Dawson, serial entrepreneur, mother, wife, and loather of spreadsheets. Hannah’s the founder and CEO of business finance platform Futrli. Hannah’s on a mission to provide accountants and businesses with game-changing solutions to boost the success rates of businesses, and help both parties, simply, feel okay.