What are Advisory Services?

You may be considering adding something new to your accounting practice but aren’t sure where to begin – we suggest trying out advisory services. Incorporating advisory services are a great way to expand your business by offering current clients added benefits and services, as well as attracting new clients.

Advisory services are the services an advisor provides with the objective of improving various aspects of their clients business. This process is usually done through structured meetings that go over where and by when the client wants to see the improvements. It is also done through research for finding key insights into the clients business so the right recommendations can be made.

You may wish to be the sole advisor or have a team of advisors ready to deal with clients.

Want to offer advisory services? These topics will help you understand more about offering advisory and consulting services to your clients: 

Why Do Clients Need Advisory?

Clients usually need advisory when there are tasks that cannot be performed by them. Small business owners tend to be on the busier side, and as their accountant you can give your tailored advice and opinion on things they don’t have the time or don’t want to do.

Who needs advisory services?

  • Small business owners
  • Self-employed individuals

Types of Advisory Services

Here is a list of a few advisory services that your clients or potential clients will need.

Data advisory

Data advisory services are rooted in methodologies that supply measurable data architecture blueprints, unbiased supplier-neutral recommendations, and implementation road maps. It works to provide industry-specific solutions and identify the right data strategy to align your IT and technology operations with every business objective.

Examples of data advisory services are as follows (but are not limited to):

  • Data Debugging, Cleansing and Standardization
  • Preparation of Data Dictionary and IT documentation
  • Data Management
  • Optimization of data for analytics
  • Diagnosis of Data Quality in IT Systems
  • Custom Solutions for Emerging Systems and Platforms
  • Data Structure mapping
  • Data Retention, Backup, Recovery strategies
  • Preparation of predictive models (desertion, defaulting, among others)
  • Statistical segmentation (clients, products, entities in general)
  • Data migration between IT systems

Financial Advisory

Financial advisory services provide financial advice or guidance to clients. The advice can be applied over many different areas such as investment management, tax planning, estate planning, valuation, restructuring, value creation, and more.

Small business owners seek out financial advisory services so they can work on improving or maintaining the financial health of their business. By looking over your clients financial books, you can see the most significant issues and gain insights into how to best meet their needs. After this has been done, you can set a timeline and suggest recommendations for implementing a strategy.

After you’ve grasped your client’s revenue and profits, you can begin working on forecasts, budgets, and cash flow planning; creating a forward-thinking roadmap.

  • Forecasting is the process of estimating how a business will perform in the future.
  • Budgets will help you achieve revenue goals by making it easier to manage your money and plan for leaner months.
  • Cash Flow is the reporting of the money coming in and going out of a business.

Here are a few examples of the financial services you could offer:

  1. Create customized reports that include information about trends and potential risk areas of concern.
  2. Forecast future sales and/or expenses. For example if there was a 30% increase in sales, what kind of permanent changes could you make to infrastructure?
  3. Forecast capital requirements and prepare businesses for financing. For example, if your client just received a new customer who will be doubling your clients profit, however, they only want to make payments every 90 days. Your client may not be used to receiving payments so late – so what kind of financing requirements is this business going to need so they can sustain cash flow wise.
  4. Forecast cash flow.
  5. Identify patterns that could indicate a change in direction from the original strategy.

Process advisory

A process advisory service is done by evaluating a client’s business operations, this is done to determine if they are spending extra money they don’t need to be spending – a.k.a, producing waste. After the evaluation is complete you can give them the exact explanation of where the leak of money is coming from and how to stop it.

Labour is a common area of a business where money is not spent efficiently. So as the process advisor, you would offer suggestions on how to better organize the client’s systems and direct the labour stream.

Process advisory looks at more than just the numbers, it evaluates the entire process of how a business runs. When performing a process advisory service, you can ask the following questions:

  • Are tasks prioritized efficiently?
  • Are instructions clearly defined?
  • Are there any redundancies in tasks or positions?

Advisory Services an Accounting Practice Could Offer

These advisory service frameworks are outlines of “how” you will be helping your client. Speaking with your client about these frameworks and establishing which one works best for them will help you give them the best service possible.

Financial coaching

Coaching is about helping clients think through their own ideas, instead of telling them exactly what to do. The goal is to help them come up with answers to their own questions, so they can learn for themselves. You help them come to their own conclusions by asking them thought provoking questions.


Mentorship requires you to actually tell your client what to do. Your client may admire the way you run your business financially (even if your client is in a completely different industry) and will want your exact advice on strategy. They could even pinpoint an area of your business that you perform very well on, and will want specific advice based on this area.

Strategic advice

Is a mix between mentorship and coaching. It takes a deep look into all aspects of the business – the entire business model. This can include asking questions like who are their partners, who is the target audience, who are the employees, how is the company structured, do they have a warranty, do they do marketing – basically anything to do with the business.

Big projects like this will require the help of an outside perspective (you as the advisor) and the business owner to work together to come up with solutions.


There are a few different routes you can take when it comes to CFO advisory.

A contract CFO could be hired if a company is big enough to afford a CFO, but their current one is on leave and they need someone temporarily. This is where you could come in and be the contracted CFO. The contracted CFO could even be used to help hire a permanent replacement. Basically, this is normally a full time position for a limited amount of time.

A virtual CFO is generally used by smaller businesses who cannot afford to hire a full time CFO, so they can hire you as their part-time or virtual CFO. This could mean coming in (virtually or in person) one day a week to give financial advice, and you have the rest of your week to do as you please.

Virtual CFO and contract CFO positions demand certain fiduciary responsibilities such as signing contracts and getting a business involved with other companies. However, in CFO level consulting you provide all the advice that a CFO would normally provide, but without the fiduciary responsibility. CFO level consulting means providing the CEO with valuable financial insights, but not taking on any personal risks.

Management consulting

This is about helping the field managers instead of the higher up executives; giving your advisory services to mid management level who are running departments. Typically these are the people who actually implement the strategies. Management consulting works by helping the team execute, rather than thinking about how to execute. It is a tactical approach that works towards continuous improvement.

Project management

This would be a short term version of management consulting. So instead of an ongoing process, you will know specifically where the beginning and end of the project will be. You should be able to picture what the specific project will look like by the completion date, and the compensation may be tied to the ability to complete the project. An example of this could be implementing a new accounting system. As the advisor you could take the project from inception, to training the staff, to the end.

As a project manager, your job ends when the project has been completed, unlike in management consulting where there is ongoing and continuous improvement.

Tax planning

Advising on tax planning is an easy upsell for your clients. You can help them strategize to minimize taxes owed, while staying within federal and provincial tax laws. Because you are already well-versed in CRA guidelines, small businesses will look to you to advise them on their business or corporate taxes.

You can also advise on mergers, acquisitions, tax on investment portfolios, proper deductions and credits that are applicable to the business, and more.

Consulting Services vs. Advisory Services

Advisers and consultants both offer expert advice to businesses by using problem solving skills, because of this, people sometimes have trouble differentiating between the two. However, there are a few key differences.

The period of time that advisors and consultants spend working with their clients differs. Advisors work with clients over a long period of time, because of this, they usually focus on a company’s long term goals as well as high level issues. Consultants on the other hand work with clients on a short term basis, meaning they will typically focus on specific issues.

Both advisers and consultants can work for businesses either internally or externally, but their work environments often differ. Advisers tend to work collaboratively with company employees—potentially even taking on leadership roles—to develop strategies and evaluate the company over time. Because of this, advisers usually maintain an ongoing relationship with their clients.

Consultants typically work independently, although they can also work as employees for consulting firms. Consultants meet with companies frequently over short periods of time to come up with solutions to problems. Rather than maintaining an ongoing relationship with clients, consultants may choose to work with a company for only a single project.

As an accounting professional, you want to ensure you are providing the best services for your clients – requiring you to be able to provide timely, relevant advice to help them grow their business. With QuickBooks, you have direct access to your clients books anywhere, any time. Plus, with all the smart business tools QuickBooks Accountant offers, like payroll and payments, time tracking, and more, you can get a complete picture of your clients financials and provide them with timely advice whenever they need it. Try it today!

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