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Are You Ready to Evolve From Accountant to Consultant?

The purpose and procedures of accounting as a profession have been the same for decades. While this likely isn’t going to change in the near future, the way your job is done is rapidly evolving in the current decade – meaning the list of demands required of you is increasing.

A survey of 284 small- and medium-sized accounting firms conducted by Mr. McNeill showed the ones with strong advisory practices generated 37% of their revenue from consulting. Therefore, it’s likely a good time to reconsider your role as solely an accountant and think about evolving into more of a consulting role.

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How to Start Your Consulting Career

Step one of starting a consulting business requires you to consider what your niche is. Being a consultant means far more than preparing tax returns, compiling financial statements, or handling technical compliance work, or providing back-office accounting services. In order to start your consulting career from an accounting background, you will need to understand how to meet the following objectives:

  • Helping your clients maintain efficient and accurate accounting practices
  • Providing your expertise to help clients understand the meaning behind their financial data and how those numbers affect their business
  • Examining your clients’ profitability
  • Developing or implementing consistent accounting practices for your clients

Consulting services will vary drastically between firms, clients, and projects. However, the types tasks accounting consultants perform in order to meet the objectives listed above are quite common:

  • Financial forecasting
  • Financial health evaluation and recommendations
  • Year-end financial statement preparation
  • Financial statement analysis, interpretation and evaluation
  • Advising on regulatory compliance issues
  • Profitability analysis
  • Accounts payable analysis, including cash flow, workflow, and savings investigations
  • Accounting process evaluation and system implementation

Types of Consulting

According to the Journal of Accountancy, these are the types of consulting services that are the most sought after.

  • Audit, risk, SOX.
  • IFRS compliance.
  • Policy and technical GAAP accounting.
  • FASB ASC Topic 606, Revenue Recognition.
  • ASC Topic 842, Leases, and new rules for lease accounting.
  • Enterprise resource planning, general ledger, and business information systems support (pre- and post-implementation).
  • General ledger consolidation.
  • Proficiency in specific software.

Things to Consider For Independent Consultants

When moving from accountant to independent consultant, there are a few key aspects you need to consider.

Covering expenses

If you currently work for an employer that provides benefits, keep in mind that as a self-employed person, you will need to factor the cost of health insurance into your budget. You will also need to consider how much money you will need to get started as a consultant, including for travel expenses, taxes, technology and software (if your clients are not providing this), and the cost to acquire new skills and set up an office.


If you already have an accounting office, you could potentially run your consulting services there. You may also wish to offer the services virtually or rent a new office space. All this depends on the types of clients you have and what solutions you think will work best for them and yourself.

Finding Clients

Joining online directories for consultants as well as creating posts on LinkedIn are great ways to advertise your services. You can also use My Google Business for local SEO, to attract clients in your area. A great way to get your name out there is to add your consulting services to your QuickBooks Find an Accountant Directory profile.

If you already have an existing website for your accounting practice, you should add your consulting services to that website, and if you don’t already have a website – definitely make one! Potential clients will get a great sense of you and your professionalism from your website. Creating specialized content geared towards your target audience is another way to find new clients. Having content (blogs/articles) on your website that is relevant to your potential clients will make you stand out in their minds as a trustworthy source.

Networking is a crucial aspect in finding clients. Reach out to existing contacts and make sure you have business cards and set up. Think about who’s in your local network to reach out to, like professional memberships, Business Network International and more.


If you work from a home-based office and intend to have business-related professionals come to your house. You will need to determine what type of business-related liability and/or property insurance to obtain. If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, you should inquire with your insurance company to determine what is covered. Additionally, if you plan on having colleagues or clients riding in the car with you, you will also want to speak with your insurance company about using your car for business.

Drafting legal contracts

To protect yourself in case of a lawsuit you must create a contract or engagement letter. These documents should include items such as fees, out of pocket expenses, timeline and scope of work to be performed.

Consulting a lawyer before drafting these documents is highly advisable. Also keep in mind that some prospective clients may request a proposal prior to entering into any type of legal agreement.

Why Are Things Changing?

The accounting profession has been the same for a very long time. The role of an accountant is to keep the books of a client, prepare tax filings, and perform audits when necessary. This is the essence of accounting, and people have been doing a fantastic job of it for many years. But technology is changing the way these things are done.

The computer age and internet age have allowed the profession to use resources that never would have been thought of decades ago. The technological trend applied to accounting is not shrinking. If anything, it’s getting bigger and more prevalent. Individual accountants need to adapt to this change quickly or else they may be deemed irrelevant in the coming years.

Artificial intelligence and accounting

Artificial intelligence encompasses many technologies that apply directly to accounting. Areas such as business planning, general learning, and problem solving are all things that artificial intelligence can do. This technology isn’t coming; it’s already here and evolving fast. No matter the size of your accounting firm, artificial intelligence is likely to be a part of it soon, if it isn’t already.

Key artificial intelligence technologies, such as computer vision, natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition and machine learning, help organizations to improve efficiency and derive insights for more competitive customer and talent strategies. They can also allow the accounting function to play a more strategic role. Understanding the depths of what artificial intelligence can do for you will help you evolve your services from accountant to consultant.

Blockchain technology will make tax filings and audits automated

A blockchain is a decentralized, digital ledger that eliminates the need for third-party verification or trust through mathematics and cryptography. This technology is relatively new but is disrupting many industries. In accounting, the long-term thought is that blockchain will eliminate the need to file taxes since all financial transactions will be on the blockchain ledger and easily verified. Also, blockchain technology has the potential to allow real-time audits of individuals and companies, a first in the accounting profession.

Consider Evolving to an Accounting Consultant

Artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, when fully implemented, eliminate the need for gathering data, analyzing the data, creating reports, filing taxes, and performing audits. With this possibility looming in the future, it’s easy to see why you should consider moving on from just providing accounting services to becoming more of an accounting consultant. With your accounting training, learning a bit about artificial intelligence and blockchain, and how they directly apply to accounting, can be a massive benefit for your career in the next few years.

You may want to consider how technology is changing and improving the accounting profession. The impact of technology is happening now, and the momentum is unlikely to stop. Because of this, it’s probably important for all accountants to begin analyzing their own careers and think about becoming accounting consultants instead of just traditional accountants.

With QuickBooks financial software , evolving from accountant to consultant will be a much simpler process. This is because QuickBooks Online Accountant gives you direct access to your clients financial data and frees up valuable time so you can focus on advising your clients. Try it today.

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Next: How to Add Consulting Services to Your Accounting Practice

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