How to Use “Leveraged Accounting Advisory” to Build a 4-Day Work Week

Podcast

Summary

  • What Amanda Does and How
  • Steps to Leveraged Accounting Advisory
  • KPIs and Your Team
  • Different Levels of Leverage Advisory
  • Communicating the Value of Leverage Advisory
  • Your Leverage Advisory Journey

Additional Resources

Meet Amanda C. Watts

Amanda C. Watts is the founder of Oomph Global, which is a company that helps practice owners embrace a new way of running their practice by using modern marketing to attract better prospects, understand the science and the art of sales to convert higher value prospects, and implement a new delivery model to scale their practices. Since 2009, Amanda has helped over 3000 practice owners in 23 countries. She is a keynote speaker, an Amazon bestselling author, creator of world-class training courses, and super passionate about making a difference.

What Amanda Does and How

For starters, Amanda is passionate about helping firm owners who have too many clients and not enough revenue. While she isn’t an accountant herself, she loves the accounting industry, specifically marketing, sales, systemizing, scaling, and accounting practice. Her ideal client, then, is someone who really wants to change from having a “monster practice,” as she calls it, to having a “freedom practice,” which is a practice that allows the practice owner the freedom and peace of mind to take part in the coveted four-day work week.

When it comes to staff-client ratios, there is no golden ratio. “The first thing we do when we work with clients is ask, ‘What kind of practice do you want?’” Often the considerations are having a traditional, compliance-based practice or a firm that focuses on leveraged advisory services. Amanda is passionate about the second option, here.

“I teach my accountants how to serve 300 to 400 clients as a team of them on their own and an admin person.”

What Amanda is saying here is that she teaches a team of two how to make $10,000 per client. This is why leveraged accounting advisory is so crucial. It makes it incredibly easy to grow your firm once you get your head around it. It frees up your time, allows you to work with clients on a one-to-many basis, and enables you to turn a tidy profit. Can you achieve this by simply doing compliance work? Absolutely, but that’s done by having a well-oiled machine that allows you as firm owner to step back from the weeds and see the big picture. “The problem with most firms is that they’ve been run by someone who’s said, ‘I can’t stand working for the Big Four. I can do this better. I’m going to set up my own firm.’ And all they end up doing is having a J.O.B. — Just Over Broke, that is.”

Steps to Leveraged Advisory

Put briefly, the steps to beginning leveraged advisory services involve three things: growth, people, and systems.

  1. Done by 10:30— “Something I learned from one of my mentors is called ‘Done by 10:30.’ This is where two to three times a week, you set yourself three 50 minute timers, and in those 50 minutes, you do things that grow the practice or you make a hire or look at systemizing something.” This time management strategy allows you to use the rest of your day looking after your team.
  2. Daily team member meetings— Use the bulk of your day looking after your team members, not micromanaging but looking after them. Have meetings with your key leaders, department managers, and team leads on a daily basis to see how you can better support them.
  3. Call on key accounts— After you’ve done all of that. You can call on some key accounts to ensure that you’re continuing to build relationships with your clients. 

“At the end of the day, it’s your job to keep the machine running as smoothly as possible.”

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KPIs and Your Team

But what are the key performance indicators that will help you measure your journey toward leveraged advisory? Amanda says the first metric to look at is how many hours the CEO is working. Part of analyzing that metric is doing a CDS review— Cut, Delegate, and Systemize. What can you cut? What can you delegate? And what can you systemize? “We can’t actually do KPIs until we see the mess the practice is in.”

Once you have properly analyzed the practice and delegated what’s necessary, those you have delegated to will have KPIs to hit. However, despite the importance of KPIs, your biggest asset is your team. So, realistically, your team’s happiness should be your primary KPI. “When we have our monthly team meeting, at the end of it, I say, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you?’ I’ll always say something like, ‘Right now, I’m feeling a 4 or 5 for this reason.’” This, Amanda says, gives your people the opportunity to be honest and not feel pressured to give out a high number and gives you the opportunity to determine what is lacking that would get them to a 10. Look after your team and retain them, because that will enable you to focus on building the firm you really want.

Different Levels of Leverage Advisory

First off, Amanda recommends not saying that you’re an advisor, because people don’t understand what that is. Instead, sell the transformation you’re offering, sell the fact that you’re a consultant. Additionally, understand that you’re not competing with other accountants. You’re competing with other business coaches and consultants.

There are different levels of advisory. “The ones you’ve been told are very profitable are, in fact, the least profitable.” Specifically, Amanda talked about compliance. While it is possible to turn a nice profit off of compliance—around 40% profit margin, you have to systemize it pretty intensely.

“Accountants have been sold the Holy Grail of ADVISORY.” Advisory is great because it transforms a client’s business and life. However, there is a downside. You are time limited, especially if you don’t do it right, which means you are often overworked.

Leveraged advisory is different from standard advisory. In this model, 80% of the work you do is done in a one-to-many scenario. Here are four tactics to make it work.

  1. Take the frequently asked questions that you get from clients, make video responses or walkthroughs, and compile them into an FAQ library. Then, have your admin person take care of distributing those videos as needed.

  1. The second tactic is like it: office hours. Amanda noted that one of her clients offers office hours every two weeks via an open Zoom call at a certain time. She says that office hours have freed up 10 hours per week for her client, enabling them to have a four-day work week!

  1. The third tactic is setting up a mastermind group. Accountants rarely run their own mastermind groups, even though it’s a great money-maker with little pressure involved. A mastermind is when you get a group of people together, have someone facilitate group discussion, and have the people in the group help one another with their challenges. So, if you’re nervous about beginning advisory services, start a mastermind. Through the mastermind process, you’ll often be credited with the solution despite not having given the answers.

  1. Lastly, you can create an online advisory service, create videos and systems, and invite others to sign up for it. This is much harder work than it may seem.

Communicating the Value of Leveraged Advisory Services

So, how do you communicate the value of leveraged advisory services to potential clients? The key points to hit on are: make money, save money, reduce stress, and reduce time. If you can help a potential client do even one of those, you have something saleable. After you’ve identified what that is, you need to create your own methodology to accompany that goal. “What is it that you can work on for 12–36 months that will help a business move the needle?”

For example: pricing! You may think you can’t advise businesses on pricing, but you definitely can. You can see what their services cost, which services are making money, and which services are costing the client money. Advise around this! You can make or save companies tons of money this way.

Here’s the big point! You have studied accounting, passed various exams, and practiced for years. Business owners need your expertise. Amanda says, “A business owner may see $100K in the bank and not realize $80K of it is going to the tax man!” You know so much more than you give yourself credit for!

Your Leveraged Advisory Journey

So, you’re interested in doing leveraged advisory work. Do you jump right into the one-to-many approach to it? That depends. Amanda says that if you have already been doing similar work—outsourced CFO work—then go for it! If you’ve never done work like this before, though, she recommends starting one-on-one with a client, building your confidence, and then expanding out.

Conclusion

We covered a ton of great information in the podcast, so if you’re after more detailed information, be sure to check out the full episode! If you want to learn more about Amanda, her company, and leveraged advisory, you can connect with her on LinkedIn or through her website!

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