The CPA Journal, Feb 2022

By  Jason L. Ackerman, CPA, CFP, CGMA

The buzzword in CPA firms these days is advising: How do we get our firm to do more advising, how do our teams become advisors, and how do we sell advising to our clients?

There is no doubt that advising is very important to being a CPA, but that has always been the case. Clients have come to us for advice since the dawn of accounting. So what has changed? Technology has made the compliance aspect of our business easier and less time consuming, but that has also commoditized the lower end work that CPAs were performing. Our work is “shifting up”—meaning the easy stuff is being done by computers, with the hard stuff left to humans.

At the heart of the move to “advisory” is an embrace of technology in the workplace. Yes, we need to let the computers do the easy stuff. But I think we’ve shifted too far in letting the computers do all the work, which I would argue is not good for clients, is not necessarily more efficient, and is going to lead to a lack of talent in the accounting world.

What is lost in the shuffle of our perceived move from compliance to advising is that we have lost focus on what really matters to a client—client service.

A lot of firms have forgotten that servicing clients, listening to their needs, understanding them, and finding solutions for them, is the most important value add that you can provide.

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