10 things you need to do to become a more proactive advisor

How to elevate your role as a trusted financial advisor

Alix Dougherty
Jun 20, 2023

Unlocking the power of proactive advisory: how to elevate your role as a trusted financial advisor

In today's rapidly changing business landscape, small business owners are seeking more than just number crunchers and data handlers. They are searching for trusted financial advisors who can guide them on the path to financial success. Modern entrepreneurs are on the lookout for advisors who can offer them strategic insights and proactive financial solutions. Amidst the relentless surge of inflation and increase in competition, they need more than just basic accounting services – they need personalised, financial guidance. And that’s where you come in. 

In this Ebook, we will explore 10 simple strategies you can implement in your day-to-day to help you become a more proactive advisor for your clients. We will also explore the remarkable benefits that these strategies will have both for your firm and your clients. For example, did you know that by anticipating your clients’ needs ahead of time, you can save time later which you can then use to upsell more services? (Just something to think about…)

So, if you landed here with the question ‘how can I become a better advisor and offer more proactive services?’; well, you’ve come to the right place. So let’s dive in. 

Contents

 

Tip 1: Stay updated

The first thing you’re going to want to do when considering how to become a better financial advisor and offer more proactive services is to stay updated. In order to remain knowledgeable of industry trends and developments relevant to advisory you need to read industry news, stay on top of advisory tools and trends, and continuously expand your knowledge.

The value of industry knowledge

Having up-to-date industry knowledge is crucial for becoming a more proactive advisor. It positions you as an expert and gives you a competitive edge. By staying informed about industry trends, regulations, and emerging advisory tools and technologies, you can offer more timely advice to your clients. This means staying on top of advisory industry trends, but also trends of your clients’ specific industries (e.g. do you have a lot of clients that own hospitality businesses?) Understanding your clients’ specific industry challenges will allow you to provide tailored solutions, guiding them towards strategic growth.

Strategies to stay informed and remain ahead of the curve

To deliver proactive advisory services, you’ll also want to adopt new and effective strategies to help you stay informed – following are a few examples:

  • Allocate dedicated time for reading industry news and research reports to stay informed about market trends.
  • Engage in professional development opportunities such as conferences.
  • Leverage digital platforms and social media to access thought leaders and relevant content.
  • Actively seek information to enhance your expertise; such as industry-specific workshops and training sessions.
  • Stay up-to-date on emerging advisory software technologies and advancements in your field.
  • Join professional communities and participate in relevant discussions and webinars.
  • Stay connected with peers and colleagues to exchange knowledge and insights.

 

Tip 2: Understand client goals

Another strategy to improve your approach and help you become a more proactive advisor is to really and truly ensure you understand your clients’ goals. Build a rapport with your clients and take the time to thoroughly understand their goals; ensuring you provide advice accordingly.

Building a strong client-advisor relationship

Focus on building strong client-advisor relationships – this means taking the time to understand your clients' goals and needs by fostering open communication and building a rapport. Actively listen to their aspirations and motivations, going beyond the numbers to grasp their vision for success. By establishing trust and empathy, you can provide personalised, proactive advice that aligns with your clients’ goals, helping you become a more valuable collaborator in their financial journey.

Techniques for understanding client objectives and expectations

Following are a few examples of techniques you could try, in order to better understand your clients’ needs:

  • Conduct in-depth discovery meetings during your client onboarding process to uncover short and long-term goals. (Also do this for old clients, in case their objectives have changed over time). 
  • Employ more active listening techniques (e.g. reflective listening) to grasp your clients’ desires, challenges and preferences. 
  • Create client profiles that capture essential details of their objectives. (And regularly review and update these to stay current with any changes.)

 

Tip 3: Anticipate client needs

Just as you will need to thoroughly understand your clients’ goals, when considering how to become a better financial advisor, it will be essential to proactively anticipate your clients’ needs. This means developing a deep understanding of your clients' financial situation, so that you can anticipate their future needs and proactively address potential challenges or opportunities.

Benefits of anticipating client needs

Anticipating client needs brings several benefits in helping you become a more proactive advisor. By deeply understanding clients' financial situations and proactively identifying their future needs, you can provide timely and tailored advice, fostering trust and confidence. In addition to this, being proactive and addressing potential challenges or opportunities in advance saves time in the long run. With proactive measures, you can prevent potential issues from escalating for your clients; supporting their journey and saving you time that you can use to focus on other tasks. Such as expanding your service offerings, or dedicating more time to strategic initiatives that further benefit your clients' financial growth.

Approaches to proactively identify potential challenges

To help you position yourself as a trusted advisor who is dedicated to your clients’ financial success, try some of the following approaches: 

  • Conduct regular financial health assessments to gain insights into clients' current situation.
  • Regularly monitor financial performance, cash flow, and KPIs to spot trends and areas of concern.
  • Engage in open and frequent communication to gather first-hand information about your clients' evolving needs.
  • Proactively seek feedback from clients to understand their challenges and aspirations.
  • Conduct periodic check-ins to stay updated on their changing circumstances.
  • Stay informed about client-specific industry trends and regulatory changes that may impact clients.
  • Use automated cash flow forecasting and other advisory software tools to quickly and easily anticipate future needs.

 

Tip 4: Implement technology (specifically an advisory software solution)

In today’s day and age, there are so many effortless and powerful advisory tools at your disposal! It isn’t like the old days when accounting was solely done on spreadsheets – today you can analyse your clients’ data in a matter of minutes with modern advisory software solutions (like Aider’s Advisory Platform). Leveraging technology tools will be essential in your journey to becoming a more proactive advisor, because not only will it automate data and streamline processes, it will save you hours of time every day – time you could be using to reach out to your clients with proactive advice! Need we say more? 

Advisory tools and platforms that will help automate tasks and enhance the client experience

The two essential advisory tools that will help you automate tasks and elevate your advisory services are Xero’s Accounting Software and Aider’s Advisory Software. While Xero will streamline your clients data, helping you offer thorough accounting services; Aider will offer a range of intuitive software features, specifically designed to save you time and help you become a more proactive advisor. (The two advisory tools work in synergy together!)

With Aider’s triaged Dashboard, you can quickly and easily view all of your clients' data at a glance; providing you with a comprehensive view of which clients need your help and why. The platform is also home to a wealth of other proactive advisory tools – including a quick and easy Data Compliance Checklist, an accurate Cash Position tool, and more. 

Using both Xero and Aider together will be vital in your journey to becoming a more proactive advisor, because it will help you automate data analysis, ensure security and accuracy of client data and will save you hours of time. It will also enable you to ensure that you stay on top of regulatory requirements without added effort. With these tools at your disposal, you can deliver a proactive, seamless experience to your clients, empowering them with personalised insights that align with their goals.

Benefits of leveraging technology for proactive advising

  • Increased efficiency through data analysis automation, real-time insights and a clear view of all your clients’ data; enabling you to accomplish more in less time.
  • Accurate insights into financial predictions, trends, and data-driven recommendations for clients, facilitated by intuitive AI technology.
  • Improved collaboration and trust with clients through in-platform email capabilities and automated insight graphs your clients will understand.
  • Proactive monitoring and timely alerts of key financial indicators and potential risks or opportunities your clients might be facing (enabling you to reach out sooner).
  • Less manual admin, meaning hours of time saved! By leveraging tools like Xero and Aider you can let automation do the data analysis for you, saving you time to offer proactive advice (and upsell additional services).

 

Tip 5: Offer cash flow forecasting services

Another tip for financial advisors when considering how to become more proactive, is to offer your clients cash flow forecasting services. By proactively assessing your clients’ future cash position, this will help you anticipate potential cash shortages or surpluses; ensuring clients are prepared for any likely anticipated issues.

Rather than reacting to cash flow issues when they arise, proactively forecast

By offering cash flow forecasting services, you can help your clients avoid the pitfalls of reactive decision-making when cash flow issues arise (e.g. not having enough money in the bank to pay tax bills). Making accurate projections will enable you to identify potential cash shortages your clients may face, in advance. This allows you to provide timely, strategic advice to support your clients with optimising working capital, making informed financial decisions, and taking proactive measures to address potential challenges. 

Look beyond basic accounting services to support your clients’ ongoing financial wellbeing

Following are some examples of advisory tools and tips you might find useful to help you support your clients with proactive cash flow advice:

  • Use a modern cash flow estimate tool to automate the analysis of your clients’ cash flow data and quickly generate accurate estimates and predictions. For example, Aider’s advisory software has a cash position tool that does just this.
  • Regularly review and analyse historical cash flow data to identify patterns, trends, and potential areas for improvement.
  • Help clients develop contingency plans to address potential cash flow disruptions such as delayed payments or unexpected expenses, and ensure they have strategies in place to navigate such situations.
  • Perform a cash flow scenario analysis for your clients by utilising their historical cash flow data. By simulating different scenarios specific to their situation or industry, such as changes in sales volume or payment terms, you can provide insights into the potential impact on cash flow and help clients develop proactive strategies to mitigate risks and capitalise on opportunities.

 

Tip 6: Emphasise risk management

Another strategy to help you become a more proactive advisor is to put an emphasis on risk management. Help your clients assess potential risks, ahead of time – such as economic downturns or regulatory changes, and work together to develop contingency plans before potential risks occur.

Assess and identify financial risks

A key part in becoming a more proactive advisor is assessing and identifying financial risks that could impact your clients' businesses. By staying informed about industry trends, economic factors, and regulatory changes, you can identify potential risks that may affect your clients, ahead of time – offering expert advice accordingly. 

Develop contingency plans and mitigation strategies

To help you add more of an emphasis on risk management in your firm, try adding some of the following strategies to your advisory services:

  • Help clients diversify revenue streams by advising them to explore new markets and product offerings – this will help reduce dependence on a single source of revenue.
  • Advise clients to maintain a cash reserve – emphasise the importance of setting aside funds as a buffer against unforeseen financial challenges or business downturns.
  • Encourage clients to establish strong supplier relationships as this will help them ensure a reliable supply chain and will mitigate potential disruptions.
  • Stress the importance of cyber security protocols (such as password security) to your clients to ensure they keep their data safe from potential data breaches, or cyber-attacks. 
  • Keep clients informed about changes to industry regulations and assist them in maintaining compliance through regular audits and policy updates.

 

Tip 7: Offer proactive solutions (upsell services)

Instead of waiting for clients to request your help, you should be proactively proposing recommendations tailored to their unique circumstances and goals. Do this by continuously taking note of their financial performance, as well any changes to their current situation or industry. This way you can help your clients avoid financial issues ahead of time, instead of helping them react to issues later (i.e. proactive problem-solving).

Benefits of proactive problem-solving

Offering proactive solutions to your clients brings several benefits. Proactive problem-solving strengthens client relationships, positioning you as a trusted partner in their business success. It also showcases your dedication to their growth and it generates additional revenue for your firm. The more specified problem-solving services you can offer your clients, the more revenue your firm will generate (as opposed to just offering low-priced accounting services).

Approaches to identify and propose tailored solutions

  • Actively listen to your clients' needs and concerns, taking note of their specific challenges and goals.
  • Regularly review their financial data, analysing trends and identifying areas for improvement or potential risks.
  • Leverage advisory software and tools to gain a deeper understanding of their financial performance and identify opportunities for proactive advice.
  • Stay updated on industry best practices and emerging trends that could benefit your clients, allowing you to offer more innovative solutions.

 

Tip 8: Be readily available and communicate regularly

Another vital strategy in becoming a more proactive advisor is to communicate regularly – don’t just communicate once every 3 months! You should maintain open lines of communication with your clients every 3 weeks, or even every 3 days – depending on the individual client and their specific needs.

Enhancing accessibility and responsiveness

When considering how to become a better financial advisor that is not just knowledgeable, but also proactive, you will need to make sure to make yourself readily available to address client questions and concerns. Set up clear communication channels and prioritise prompt responses. By being accessible and responsive, you show your commitment to building strong relationships with your clients so that you can offer them personalised, proactive advice.

Communication strategies for being readily available

  • Establish clear communication expectations with your clients personalising the frequency and method of communication to their needs, ensuring you’re on the same page.
  • Embrace digital advisory tools such as in-platform emails in your advisory software, to facilitate quick and easy real-time communication with your clients. (E.g. send a data insight from your Aider Platform to your clients with 2 simple clicks.)
  • Actively listen to your clients' needs and concerns, demonstrating empathy and promptly addressing any issues, as well as providing motivational support. Remember: part of your role as an advisor is to understand your clients financial fears and concerns.
  • Tailor your communication style with each individual client by investing time in getting to know your clients on a personal level. Adapt your communication style to their preferences (e.g. do they prefer professional phone calls or casual in-person chats over a coffee?) – this will help you enhance customer engagement and satisfaction.

 

Tip 9: Build strong, loyal client relationships

An essential step in your journey to becoming a more proactive advisor is building strong relationships with your clients by taking a genuine interest in their success and wellbeing. Tying in with our previous tip of communicating with your clients on a regular basis – building a rapport with clients and understanding what is important to them is just as vital. This will help you anticipate client needs so you can be more proactive; and it will also help build customer loyalty. (Remember: customer retention is far more cost-effective for your firm than acquiring new customers!)

Building trust and loyalty with clients

Take the time to understand your clients’ goals, challenges and aspirations, as this will allow you to anticipate their needs, provide tailored advice, and ultimately; become a trusted advisor they can rely on. By investing in building long-term relationships, you can create a loyal client base that not only stays with your firm but also becomes a source of referrals and positive word-of-mouth. Happy, loyal customers equals ongoing revenue for your firm!

Easy techniques to deepen client relationships

  • Listen actively and attentively to clients; demonstrating genuine care and interest in their goals, concerns and success.
  • Schedule regular touchpoints to keep communication open and provide updates on their financial progress.
  • Address client inquiries promptly and anticipate potential questions or issues (reach out with advice before the client needs to ask for it).
  • Regularly seek client feedback and action it (i.e. make improvements to your approach based on their suggestions).
  • Show appreciation and gratitude for your clients business and loyalty – ensure to acknowledge the value they bring to your practice.
  • Collaborate and involve clients in the decision-making process. They may not be an expert in finance like you are, but that doesn’t mean their ideas aren’t valid.

 

Tip 10: Seek client feedback

Lucky last! Our final tip for financial advisors to help you become more proactive, is to regularly seek feedback from your clients! Your clients’ opinions are like gold when it comes to helping you improve your advisory services and approach. This is why it will be vital to ask your clients to give you feedback, as this will help you gauge their satisfaction, identify areas for improvement, and refine your approach. After all, who knows better than your clients if you’re doing a good job, right?

The value of client feedback in your journey to becoming a more proactive advisor

Client feedback is essential! By actively seeking and listening to feedback from your clients, you can not only gain invaluable insights into their needs and expectations (showing them you care), but you can also understand how your firm needs to improve (and take actions accordingly). Client feedback serves as a compass, guiding you towards providing a more personalised and proactive approach that truly addresses your clients’ unique challenges and goals. It allows you to align your services with their evolving requirements, ensuring you stay ahead of the curve; delivering exceptional, proactive services.

Quick and easy methods for seeking client feedback

  • Encourage clients to leave reviews on review platforms (e.g. Google reviews, or a review form on your website).
  • Run a review promotion or incentive where clients can share their feedback and enter a draw to win a prize (when there's something in it for them, they’re more likely to submit feedback).
  • Conduct periodic client satisfaction surveys to gather feedback on specific aspects of your services. You could also ask for customer requests (i.e. “what services do we not offer that you’d like?”)
  • Host client feedback sessions or focus groups to facilitate open discussions and gather in-depth insights from clients.
  • Engage with clients through social media channels, actively seeking feedback and responding to their comments and messages.

Embrace proactive financial advisory for the success of your firm

In this Ebook, we have explored 10 easy, essential strategies to help you become a more proactive, trusted advisor. 10 strategies might seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to try them all! Pick 1 or 2 strategies to get started, then when you have more capacity try more – whatever it is that you choose to try, just deciding to try these strategies is a step forward in the right direction. In fact, just reading this Ebook has shown you are proactively searching for ways to better serve your clients (go you)!

By embracing a proactive approach to advisory, you not only benefit your clients but also empower your colleagues, and contribute to the growth and development of your firm. Remember, being proactive is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment to staying ahead of the curve and delivering exceptional services. As you implement these 10 tips for financial advisors in your day-to-day, you will cultivate stronger client relationships, establish your expertise, and differentiate yourself in the competitive advisory landscape. 

The journey begins with your willingness to embrace change and strive for continuous improvement. Start today and reap the rewards tomorrow!

Ready to become a more proactive advisor? 

Start your journey with Aider today.

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