Professional, business and financial service firms in Manchester and Cheshire have evolved rapidly in recent years.
In terms of operating your own businesses, you will undoubtedly be regularly engaging with clients via rapidly advancing technology.
It’s likely that your service portfolio has evolved too, and you are now a more rounded “trusted advisor”.
Technology has released accountants, business coaches and other service providers from their more “mundane” responsibilities and tasks. Improved connectivity, automation and control have freed you up to be more proactive in advising clients on a variety of business development topics.
This includes greater tools and skills for predictive analysis, as well as forensic data analysis.
The opportunities to enhance and diversify your traditional services lie firmly in the IT realm.
For example, accountants are no longer focused purely on retrospective financial management and compliance. They are often “up front and central” when clients are formulating business plans, and considering investment opportunities.
This could well include recommending accounting software to your clients. Do you feel comfortable dispensing this advice to companies who are not tech-savvy, or who may be coming up short on compliance and security?
Mind the gaps….and the overlaps!
The fact your professional services firm now offers far greater involvement in business decision making – and communicates with clients via IT – throws up an interesting question.
As an accountancy, business consultant or other professional service organisation, how good are you are providing IT advice and support?
You are possibly thinking “that’s not my problem.” But how true is that?
Is your client failing to fully exploit technology, to achieve profitable growth? Do they demonstrate a worrying inability to sustain their margins long term, due to IT gaps?
You could be in a unique position to see – from the outside in – where your clients are duplicating data management or overcomplicating processes too.
GDPR and your reputation
Your interest in your clients’ IT provision and management goes beyond your role as a trusted business advisor. It is also linked to the risks your organisation faces, when clients fail to update their IT systems, processes and controls.
Not least, as the EU General Data Protection Act (GDPR) inextricably connects your fortunes to those of your clients!
If you pass data between your firm and your clients, you need to be aware of their GDPR compliance status. IT security is only as strong as the “weakest link”. If your clients suffer from data breaches and you are found to be in anyway culpable or even connected, you could find yourself on the end of penalties. But also facing the prospect of something even more insidious – loss of reputation.
Dispensing IT advise to protect client trust
Much of your success as a business adviser comes from establishing a position of trust. Your clients need to know that your team are bastions of confidentiality and control.
Investing in your own cyber security and keeping things safely stored on cloud services are important. However, if you leave a “backdoor” open to cyber crime in your data exchange with clients, or fail to advise them on potential issues, lasting damage is always a key stroke away.
And what if the worst does happen? Do your clients have data recovery and IT contingency plans? It’s hard for you to collect your fees from a client if they are sinking without a trace under the weight of IT failures and flaws.
This includes not “just” major data errors and losses (which are sadly all too common). The more that small businesses rely on technology and IT skills to be successful, the more vital it is that they have access to responsive help desks. And, swift IT solutions for everyday problems and concerns.
Delays cost money. In the knife edge world of modern industry and commerce, when your clients experience IT issues, the ripple effect could be alarming.
There is another significant advantage when professional firms take an interest in the level of IT support their clients enjoy. Imagine the loyalty you can command, if your timely advice and recommendations help clients to benefit from effective disaster recovery. Or, at the very least, when you steer them to responsive, round the clock IT support.
IT advice and NW professional and business firms
So, how far do you need to go, in advising clients about their IT systems and help, in relation to the business or financial services your company provides?
Clearly, you aren’t in the business of providing IT services in Macclesfield, Stockport, Cheshire, or Manchester. However, that is our area of expertise.
You are in a great position to refer your clients to our expertise and assistance so they can start benefiting from comprehensive and effective IT services.
It will also add to your own stance as a trusted business advisor, if you can show potential clients that your integrated service includes access to high quality IT consultancy.
Having a good relationship with CARA Technology also protects you and shows your IT credentials and security are of the highest order. There’s a lot to be said for showing that your firm is responsible, forward looking and well managed when it comes to all matters related to IT.
An ongoing working relationship with CARA could also avoid the need for expensive investment in your own in-house systems and expertise. You can piggyback on our resources and make the best use of our ability to keep pace with new technology.
Contact the team at CARA, to discuss how to become a referral partner.