If you've been to any conferences this year, you know that everyone is talking about how advisory services are the hot new thing that every accounting firm needs to be offering as compliance gets automated. But what does that mean, exactly? The Cloud Accounting Podcast is here to find an answer! In this very special episode, Blake and David walk the expo floor at Xerocon San Diego and, with the help of many random, unsuspecting victims, try to answer the question of the summer, just what the heck is advisory, anyway? Don't miss this special tribute to The Summer of Advisory!
We asked the question - What is Advisory? See the responses below in the transcript!
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Blake Oliver: All right, David, we are about to walk the floor at Xerocon.
David Leary: This is perfect. We have to be careful. We have cords ... We've never done this before!
Blake Oliver: Yeah, this is a little awkward, because we don't have a wireless setup.
David Leary: I'm gonna throw this drink away. I'm gonna [cross talk]
Blake Oliver: Yeah, let's try not ... Pick that cord up so we don't trip.
David Leary: We're just gonna randomly ask some people what advisory means.
Blake Oliver: Is that still the plan?
David Leary: It's the Summer of Advisory, so we'll find out what it means. We kinda started to record too early. I didn't realize the hallway was so long-.
Blake Oliver: That's okay. I can cut out all of this stuff.
David Leary: Or just play it really fast.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, exactly.
David Leary: Zhooooooooop ... [00:00:30]
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Blake Oliver: All right, David, we are live, here on the floor, at Xerocon San Diego 2019 in the beautiful convention center.
David Leary: It's really cool because I feel like I'm kind of outside, but not outside. It's a cool convention center.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Reminds me of the Denver [00:01:30] airport, right, with the ...?
David Leary: Oh, yes, the-
Blake Oliver: With the tent.
David Leary: The tent, exactly. It does look like the Denver airport, but there's tech companies here instead of a food court.
Blake Oliver: That's true.
David Leary: Should we go around and try to find some random person and ask them what advisory is?
Blake Oliver: Yeah, let's walk. Let's see if we can solve this question - what is advisory?
David Leary: We can ask Melissa here from Veem, a former sponsor of the podcast. So, Melissa, it is The Summer of Advisory, so can you please define what the word advisory is to you?
Melissa Mullett: Oh, [00:02:00] that's a great question! I think it's getting that knowledge base, having a solid foundation, and then taking your subjective opinion and applying that with what can be helpful, but making sure it's kind of data-based and well-researched. Things like going to sessions and then being that advisor who's well-rounded. So, make sure you're multifaceted.
Blake Oliver: Patti Scharf of Catching Clouds. Hello, Patti! You're on The Cloud Accounting Podcast, and we're asking folks-.
David Leary: In the Summer of Advisory, which we're in, can you please define advisory?
Patti Scharf: Nobody can define [00:02:30] advisory! The other day I was thinking about it. We were talking about all the different things, different insights, and things that we would tell our clients. We would talk about the different apps that they should use, fixing the different problems that they had. Honestly, just whatever clients don't know about accounting, or their tools, or whatever that you can fill in the blanks for them, that's advisory.
David Leary: I don't know ... Where do you wanna go?
Blake Oliver: Wanna go over to TOA to see of Wayne's there? There's Wayne ... Wayne Schmidt.
Wayne Schmidt: Hey! How we doin'? [00:03:00]
Blake Oliver: All right.
Wayne Schmidt: Hi, how are we?
David Leary: Wayne, it is The Summer of Advisory. Everybody has a different definition of the word advisory. Can you please tell me your definition of advisory?
Wayne Schmidt: Business advisory ... Well, this term didn't exist before you had a number of software apps, who, basically, their business model is getting accountants to use their software on clients. So, all the sudden, this is a new term. I actually don't think accountants are skilled for doing business advisory. They haven't been trained. A business advisory requires you to have some sales skills, because all of a sudden, you're gonna have [00:03:30] to start going and selling. That's no reflection on an accountant; it's just because they haven't been trained enough. It's the reason why I think they're gonna struggle with business advisory services.
Yet I still think the industry that's got the best growth potential is compliance. Compliance is here to stay. The government is going to keep making it harder. It's gonna make it tougher. They just love playing around with the legislation. Every year, they're gonna play around with it. They change legislation all the time, so compliance gets- it’s getting harder. The [00:04:00] only thing you're finding is compliance is getting commoditized. So, yes, products that are cloud- all the cloud-accounting products are making the cost of compliance lower. Hence, the reason why you've been looking at how do you lower you ... The biggest cost for an accounting firm is your staff. That's it. That's your biggest cost. That's when you come into companies like TOA Group, which allow you to have an offshore team, so you can straightaway have a 60-percent saving on your bottom line.
David Leary: Thanks, Wayne.
Blake Oliver: Thanks, [00:04:30] Wayne! Great talking!
David Leary: Excuse me, sir. Hey, Brooks. David Leary. We're with the ... Oh, you're with System Six [cross talk] Jeremy; you're with Jeremy. System Six Bookkeeping. Okay, so this is great, great, great. Can you please define what advisory is?
Brooks Wheatley: To me, advisory is basically taking all the financial and non-financial information that you kinda know about how businesses operate and run and being able to give your clients the stuff they need to make their businesses successful. We know how businesses work. [00:05:00] We know how they operate. We have access to so many types of businesses across the whole spectrum, and we have a lot of advice to give about how to operate and run a business. To me, that's advisory is just getting people to ... Being able to transfer that knowledge to your clients.
David Leary: Awesome. Perfect. Thanks a lot, Brooks!
Blake Oliver: Thank you!
David Leary: Have a good one! Let's see, anybody else-
Blake Oliver: All right, what's next? What's next?
David Leary: There's a guy eating his food over there with a spork by himself-
Blake Oliver: Well, maybe let's not bother people that are eating.
David Leary: Yeah, food could be bad ... We gotta be [00:05:30] coordinated, then, when we turn here.
Blake Oliver: I know, we have to work together [cross talk] we're tied together here. Okay.
David Leary: There we go. Physically tied together. How about this lady right here?
Blake Oliver: No, she's [cross talk]
David Leary: Those two guys are weird.
Blake Oliver: Yeah-
David Leary: She's like, "I'm outta here! That's enough of that!" Hi. Excuse me. We're with The Cloud Accounting Podcast. We feel like this is The Summer of Advising. Your name? Could you pronounce that for me?
Nury Saenz: Nury Saenz
David Leary: Nury, could you define advising?
Nury Saenz: Let's see ... Just [00:06:00] helping somebody to make decisions, per se?
David Leary: Short and sweet. Awesome. Thank you very much.
Nury Saenz: You're welcome!
Blake Oliver: Thank you!
David Leary: We could ask this guy, right here.
Blake Oliver: Mr. Aaron Berson.
Aaron Berson: What's up? Oh, my God, I'm attacked by mics. What's going on?
David Leary: Can you please define advisory for us?
Aaron Berson: I'd say it's really just helping your clients understand their business in a way that they already have thought about, but not really paid attention [00:06:30] to; kind of just going above and beyond, interpreting their numbers and not just handing them financials and actually having conversations with them and drilling down into everything about why they're doing and how they're doing.
Elliott Brown: How's it going, guys? I'm Elliott Brown from OnPay. Just wanted to say hi!
David Leary: All right, Elliott, no, we got a question for you, though.
Elliott Brown: Yes.
David Leary: This is The Summer of Advisory. So, can you define what advisory is?
Elliott Brown: You know, I think, first of all, it's anything going above and beyond the role of a traditional accountant. So, it's trying to add more value to your clients, [00:07:00] understand who they are, and what they need, and give it to them in the way that serves you best. Fortunately, because there is no specific definition, I think that means that can be whatever you're most comfortable with. Some people here are talking about it being everything - just being a business consultant - but I think it means just moving a little beyond like what's inside the box to come closer to where they are.
David Leary: She's eyeballing us. She wants to be interviewed, right here. You can't stare at us when we walk by and us not come over to ask you some questions [cross talk]
Chris Walsh: -made eye contact. Don't make eye contact!
Blake Oliver: All right, hi. What's your name? Who are you?
Chris Walsh: Chris Walsh, Walsh Accounting [00:07:30] from Pennsylvania.
David Leary: Can you define the word advisory?
Chris Walsh: I would say, for me, advisory means just kinda helping businesses understand their business and help them grow.
Blake Oliver: Liz, you wanna get in here? What's your name?
Liz Farr: Liz Farr.
Blake Oliver: And you are with?
Liz Farr: I am on my own. I am a freelance writer and a CPA. My business is Farr Communications.
Blake Oliver: We've been asking everybody - what does advisory mean to you?
Liz Farr: Advisory [00:08:00] means giving your clients what they need from where they are. Maybe that's just a tax return, right now. Maybe that's just bookkeeping. But maybe it's succession planning and making them think about things that they've never thought about.
David Leary: Let's ask this guy who has this purple jacket on here.
Andy Burner: Hi, I'm Andy Burner. I look after people in business operations for Xero Americas.
David Leary: Can you please define advisory?
Andy Burner: We use that word a lot. We use that word a lot at Xero, and the industry uses that [00:08:30] word a lot ... You heard us talk about it on stage. You've heard a number of things. When I think about advisory, I really think about accountants, or bookkeepers, or business partnering; spending their time helping small business owners, who love what they do, understand how to do more of it, and do it better, and serve their customers better. That can mean a raft of things. It starts with the numbers, and it moves up the value chain into the business. That's what I think about!
David Leary: Let's see. Here we go, right here. We could ask some of these people here.
Stephanie Holt: Stephanie Holt, and Cloud Accounting & Consulting in [00:09:00] Jacksonville, Florida.
David Leary: I recognize you; I think.
Stephanie Holt: Yeah, we Twitter a lot ... We have a little tweet thing going.
David Leary: Twitter, yes, okay. Stephanie, one question, very easy ... This is The Summer of Advisory. Define advisory.
Blake Oliver: What does it mean to you? [cross talk]
Stephanie Holt: No, I'm just kidding. For us, it means really being engaged in the client's processes, and their business, and understanding their cash flow needs, and their capital needs, and really just kind of being an extension of their team. That's what advisory services mean to us.
David Leary: This [00:09:30] is great. There's so many different answers for advising.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
David Leary: We're just proving that there is no answer.
Blake Oliver: It means anything to everybody.
David Leary: Look at these two in their sunglasses.
Kathy Gregory: Have you figured out what advisory is yet?
David Leary: Not yet.
Kathy Gregory: Have you been told yet?
David Leary: We have 25 answers.
Kathy Gregory: 25 answers? I cannot wait to hear the answer on the podcast.
David Leary: What podcast?
Kathy Gregory: The Cloud Accounting Podcast-
David Leary: Perfect.
Kathy Gregory: Really the ONLY good accounting podcast, right?
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David Leary: Hey, you guys wanna be on The Cloud Accounting Podcast? I'm just gonna ask you one question, that's it [cross talk] Your name is Scotty?
Scotty: I'm Scotty.
David Leary: Okay, Scotty, this is like The Summer of Advisory. Can you define the word advisory or what it means to you?
Scotty: It means, I guess, taking a client and leading them [00:11:00] towards a financial goal, maybe?
Blake Oliver: That's great. We're closer to a definition. Thank you.
David Leary: Yes, yes, yes, we're on the mission. Let's see, this guy has a pink shirt, so let's see what this guy says. Hold on, sir, c'mere, c'mere, c'mere.
Blake Oliver: Excuse us. Would you like to be on The Cloud Accounting Podcast?
Dan McCarthy: For what?
David Leary: We're gonna ask you one question, that's all. What's your name?
Dan McCarthy: I'm Dan McCarthy.
David Leary: Dan, nice to meet you. So, this is The Summer of Advising. All the conferences are advising, advising, advising ... Can you please define what advisory is to you?
Dan McCarthy: Advisory, to me, is making [00:11:30] sure that you're providing the strategic advice that your clients need at the time when they need it. I think it's looking out into the future, helping them understand what's around the corner and what the financial impact is. I think that's different for each client, but [we] believe it's making sure that the information, and financial data is in a place that they can understand it and that they can make actual decisions on it.
David Leary: Excuse me, Carolyn? Hi. Would you like to be on The Cloud Accounting Podcast? I'm just gonna ask you one question.
Carrie Williams: Hi, Blake. It's [Carrie] Williams. I'm with [Seashore] Numbers. Actually, [00:12:00] I'm trying to figure that out right now, because it's a service that I want to add on, whether it's app advisory, or its deeper advisory with cash flow, or just helping them to figure out where they wanna go in the future and the growth of their business. So, I'm still trying to work that out myself, but it's somewhere in between that; I'm just not sure what it is yet [cross talk]
David Leary: Well, this is like that marriage test, where they ask the husband the same question they ask the wife, to see if they have the same answer.
Scott Scharf: No, she's right.
David Leary: Okay ... All right, so, Scott- [00:12:30]
Scott Scharf: Yes-
Blake Oliver: So, first, name and rank ...
Scott Scharf: Scott Scharf, co-founder of Catching Clouds.
David Leary: Can you define advisory?
Blake Oliver: What does it mean to you?
Scott Scharf: What does it mean to me? Helping the clients at a higher level - with their business - meet their goals and whatever falls under that, that's what it is.
David Leary: How about this guy right here?
Chris Rogers: Chris Rogers of BookWerks. So, can I define ...?
David Leary: Advisory.
Chris Rogers: Advisory?
Blake Oliver: What does it mean to you?
Chris Rogers: Value-added interpretation to what's going on in your books [00:13:00] and in your numbers.
David Leary: Hello, hello. Hey, how's it going?
Blake Oliver: Would you be interested in being on The Cloud Accounting Podcast, Gonzalo?
Gonzalo Alvarez de Toledo: My name is Gonzalo. I'm from Argentina. This is my second Xerocon. I think I'm the only guy that listens to your podcast in Argentina.
David Leary: Thank you very much. Thank you, thank you!
Gonzalo Alvarez de Toledo: We just formed an alliance, Contabi Alliance. We want to help Latin American accountants to adopt [00:13:30] technology like Xero, and other apps. It seems that it's the same for accountants all over the world that it's difficult to change, and to adopt technology. Advisory, for me, is help small, and medium business clients to grow their business.
Blake Oliver: Ooh, there's Jay Kimmelman. Let's see- let's get Jay.
David Leary: All right.
Blake Oliver: Jay!!!! Do you wanna be on a podcast? Yes! He said yes!
Jay Kimelman: Jay Kimelman with The Digital CPA. Advisory, to [00:14:00] me, is giving advice to my clients to help them make changes to their business. The key, though, is knowing what advisory we're already doing and not charging for and actually making that change and actually charging for the advice that we're giving.
David Leary: Excuse me, ladies, would you like to be on The Cloud Accounting Podcast? I'll ask you one question. That's it.
Ashleigh Hendrick: Ashleigh Hendrick, Violet, Inc. is the company. What advisory means to me is [00:14:30] providing an extra value to clients where they might not know that they need the extra value and being kind of a partner to them, advising them on how to do different things, like grow their business, or make certain financial decisions that they might not know that they need.
David Leary: Oh, this guy right here. Joel.
Blake Oliver: Joel!
David Leary: Joel [cross talk]
Joel Lacayo: -hear me, because I lost my voice completely, but yes- [00:15:00]
David Leary: I can hear it, yes.
Joel Lacayo: Joel Lacayo, ATAX Franchise.
David Leary: Can you define what advisory is?
Joel Lacayo: Consulting to a business, in order for them to better understand aspects that are not related to bookkeeping or bookkeeping and finances. I don't know, man. I think everybody else has like a definition, like an amalgamation of something that's important. But, in the end of it, to me, where I come from in the sales business, it's just a matter of consulting to make sure that they [00:15:30] have everything that they need or what they're missing in terms of their business. So, whatever that implies - financially, BD-wise, sales-wise, marketing-wise.
Blake Oliver: Matt Donaldson-.
David Leary: Matt Donaldson, c'mere, Matty. C'mere.
Blake Oliver: C'mere, we need you on the podcast. So-.
Matt Donaldson: I'm gonna be famous! I'm Matt Donaldson, or Donny, and I am with Rippling.
David Leary: Can you define- what is advisory to you?
Matt Donaldson: I'm still unsure of what advisory is to me, at this point. Advisory is being able to make recommendations in some form or fashion.
David Leary: I [00:16:00] think we should interview Guy Pearson.
Blake Oliver: Oh, yeah. Where's Guy?
David Leary: Guy's over here.
Blake Oliver: Let's do Guy. Should we sneak up on him from behind?
Guy Pearson: Guy Pearson. I'm the janitor at Practice Ignition.
David Leary: Can you define what advisory is?
Guy Pearson: Oh, wow. Ultimately, it's helping your clients achieve a better outcome. Hopefully, that means understanding their financials better so they can make better decisions faster. If I was to give one tip on how to do that better, it'd be to target a vertical; understand that vertical, so you know all the benchmarks, KPIs, OKRs, and things [00:16:30] to measure to help improve, as well as the trends going on in that industry.
Brooke Roberts: I am Brooke Roberts from ProfitSee. To me, being an advisor is all about creating future opportunity for your business clients; things you can do to help them protect against risk, plan for growth, and really grow their business.
Jose Zavala: Jose Zavala, ZTX Advisors, and I came to kind of check it out, because I've heard from Will Lopez, and everybody else [00:17:00] how awesome Xerocon is, so I had to come check it out for myself. For me, advisory is moving beyond the books. So, it's not just your after-the-fact bookkeeping. It's actually helping your clients understand the numbers, and understand what the numbers mean, and how to use those numbers to help them grow.
That's kind of my definition of it. I could be way off. I could be on point, but that's kinda how I see it, and it's helping at least my clients, so far. They've been happy with it. Especially with all these apps that are out there, I've been able to kind of integrate, which makes it easier [00:17:30] for us to look at the numbers and present it in a more easier fashion to them than just, "Here's a P&L, you figure it out" kinda thing.
Thomas Casey: Thomas Casey with Xero. That's a pretty complicated, simple question, in that it depends on who you talk to. There's a lot of ways to look at it. At the end of the day, it's really a matter of you having conversations with [00:18:00] your clients in a way that allows them to understand where they're at and where they're going and, really, turning it into storytelling in a way that the clients can then grow their business. In other words, taking that transactional information and compliance work and making it real life for the client.
David Leary: How about, Blake, right here? [00:18:30]
Sasha Hryciuk: Sure. My name's Sasha. I'm the founder of Loft47. I'm here with the head of sales from Loft47, Tracy. Advising, to me, I would say it's rather than getting in the work- getting into it, and doing the work for somebody, it's advising them how to best do it. So, hopefully, they have some insights that you wouldn't find just in your average everyday day-to-day operations.
Tracy Simmons: I'm Tracy with Loft47.
Blake Oliver: What is advisory to you? What does that mean to you?
Tracy Simmons: Advisory, [00:19:00] to me, means having an informed opinion about the advice you're giving.
Hannah: Hannah with Avalara. I define an advisor as navigating the client to the right resources, helping them navigate the pathway of business and what comes with it, giving them the right tools for success.
Dan Shively: Dan Shively. I'm with Spotlight Reporting. Advisory is creating a relationship that's meaningful with your clients and delivering advice to them that [00:19:30] helps them succeed and the community succeed.
Mike: I'm Mike [inaudible]. I'm here with Gusto. There is 75 answers to this question, right? Really, from my perspective, advisories are simply adding additional value for the small and medium business owner, and that means doing more beyond just bookkeeping and accounting.
Shanu M: I'm Shanu [inaudible] from [inaudible]. Advisory, for me, is a value addition. So, I think everybody [00:20:00] sees that it comes out of passion, but, I feel that if you are good at something and you spend 10,000 hours doing it, you become great at it, and then you reverse-attribute it to a value. A lot of value creation, without the direct way of seeing it, and seeing the things from the top, that's advisory to me.
Dan Young: Dan Young, Xero. Advisory is basically adding more value than just accounting, letting your small business know how [00:20:30] to succeed, how to nail it.
Blake Oliver: We're coming for you, Dave!
David Amerman: David Amerman, and I'm here with Xero. Advisory has to do with taking a look at how you help your clients in different ways that are not always necessarily financially sourced and really actually trying to find a best-in-class solution for how they actually can run their businesses. Advisory is bigger than just numbers. It's about quality of life and how you build a better [00:21:00] business with your small business owners.
David Leary: Watch it. There's a crouton there. I didn't know what I was stepping on. Kelly? Kelly?
Blake Oliver: Hi, Kelly!
David Leary: Kelly, c'mere. C'mere, Kelly ... Kelly, c'mere!
Kelly Bistriceanu: Kelly Bistriceanu. I'm here with CollBox.
David Leary: Can you define advisory?
Kelly Bistriceanu: Not really. I think advisory is very different depending on the firm that you work for, your target clientele, your goals for your business, the type of the firm, the type of accountant that you want to be ... It's gonna be different for each [00:21:30] individual practitioner. I don't think it's my place to define advisory, or our place, necessarily, but I love hearing from our partners what they think it is and helping them get closer to that.
Jeff Phillips: My name is Jeff Phillips. The name of my company is Accountingfly.
David Leary: Can you define advisory?
Jeff Phillips: I can't define it, but I know it's the future, because everyone's telling me that it is at these conferences.
Jason Staats: Jason Staats. I’m with Brenner, LLP.
Blake Oliver: Nice to meet you, Jason.
David Leary: Jason, this is The Summer of Advisory. Can you define advisory?
Jason Staats: Everything [00:22:00] but tax and bookkeeping. It’s what I've learned.
Brian Hershman: My name is Brian, with Buck Stops Here Accounting.
David Leary: That's a great accounting firm name [cross talk]
Brian Hershman: -account. Yes, thank you. I think of advisory as the word coaching, helping … I was a former coach, so it's helping people get to the next level and cutting off their learning curve, basically. Advisory is helping shorten the learning curve of a business’s process through your experience.
Simon: Simon, and I’m from [00:22:30] Stem.ai. It’s really about getting away from the clerical task and looking at the financial of your clients at 30,000 feet view, and really get the step back that the client doesn’t have on its own financial information.
Ranica Arrowsmith: Ranica Arrowsmith, and I'm the Tech Editor for Accounting Today, a magazine in New York. Advisory is everything that goes beyond keeping books. So, accountants sometimes don't think of themselves as creatives, but I think the move … I [00:23:00] think they are creatives, and I think the move of the industry is moving them towards becoming creative providers of higher-value services, like forecasting … And there's technology for all of these things, too. So, it's not like an accountant has to be sort of bereft. They have tools that they can use to become advisors.
David Leary: Perfect. Thank you very much.
Blake Oliver: Awesome. Thank you!
David Leary: Cool. Sure ...
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