Original webinar date: October 21, 2021
This article is part of a series where we share the top insights from Gusto Next—the premiere conference for accounting professionals. Read the entire series and watch Gusto Next 2021.
Do you want to know how an automated payroll system and automated tax filing can make your life easier?
Gusto is committed to training you and your firm to thrive now and in the future. We were thrilled to hold our inspiring Gusto Next 2021 conference and connect with our amazing community.
Nora Tucker is the Head of Product for Gusto’s accounting arm who is driving education around maximizing automation benefits. She’s a veteran in the industry, having held previous positions at Intuit and Docusign. Her mission is to support Gusto’s amazing accounting partnerships and help them break new ground by leveraging Gusto’s services. She laid out exactly how you can partner with integrated automation to make your life easier and your advisory services more effective.
From payroll accountant to financial advisor
Change brings challenges, but also presents opportunities. Payroll—once seen as belonging only to the realm of compliance—can be done more quickly and efficiently by machines. Mundane tasks that used to make up a bulk of your work can be automated, which frees you up to focus on higher-level thinking. What does that mean for you? Well, you now have the opportunity to be an advisor to your clients and merge automated insights with your seasoned expertise.
Nora gave a great example. For years, she’d struggled to do her taxes, and as her business grew, her taxes grew increasingly complicated. After years of struggle, she found a new tax advisor named Troy. His approach was much different than that of those she’d hired before:
“[He] flat out refused when I asked him, ‘Hey, can you do my tax return?’ Instead, he said, ‘Here’s the deal. I’m going to advise you over the course of the year, and then at the end of the year, we’ll do your tax return together.’ I’m now paying three or four times what I was paying before, but my perceived value of this arrangement is so much greater. I’m buying peace of mind, a partner to act as a sounding board for when I make financial decisions, and he’s helped me to avoid a lot of costly mistakes during the course of the year. … I bet tax time is a lot easier for Troy, too. He’s already familiar with my financial situation and, fingers crossed, we’re not going to be walking into any landmines as we go into the end of year.”– Nora Tucker
This was a win-win situation. Nora got support throughout the year, gained a more holistic perspective of her overall financial picture, learned more about how her business influenced her tax situation, and felt on top of her tax situation throughout the year instead of only once it was filed.
Troy up leveled his position to go from crunching numbers and doing mundane tasks into a role that leveraged his true talent and expertise. Not only that, he built a long-term relationship with Nora, was able to provide better services to her and to build the trust that retains valuable clients.
You can be like Troy. You can partner with the automation revolution and position yourself not just as an accountant but as a financial advisor. You can build wealth through deeper client relationships in which you have a larger stake in more aspects of their business.
“You’re in a position to offer peace of mind to your small business clients and help ensure their success. … Are you making the most of that opportunity in front of you, and are you leveraging software to help you get there? … Both your firms and their clients might think that payroll is not all that important, and this is honestly exactly how I view my tax return. [I see it as] just some tedious chore that I have to do every year. This is not something that I want to spend additional time and energy on. But what if payroll is simply the compliance entry point to a broader, more meaningful relationship with your clients, and why aren’t more accountants stepping up to play this role?”– Nora Tucker
So what’s blocking accountants from becoming advisors? According to Nora, there are two main problems that stand in the way: A lack of capacity and a lack of capability.
How payroll outsourcing services frees up capacity
The lack of capacity to go beyond compliance is no joke. There simply aren’t enough CPAs out there to make introducing advisory services possible. Hiring can be a challenge, and some roles go unfilled for months. Overworked CPAs are just trying to keep up with changing financial regulations and business loan opportunities, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
A Gusto survey of our partners revealed that 33% felt not having enough time was the biggest blocker to scaling their business advisory practice. Freeing up capacity with brute strength alone just isn’t viable. So what can you do about it? Let’s start with the basics.
You’ll want to automate repetitive actions you’re used to doing in your day-to-day.
- Configure payroll once, then let it run automatically using Gusto’s Autopilot.
- Use Gusto to create new hire reporting for growing clients.
- Take advantage of automated tax filing of local, state, and federal payroll taxes. Gusto will calculate, file, and pay them automatically.
- Let Gusto issue and file W-2s and 1099’s and send them to your clients, employees, and contractors.
Next, you can use seamless integrations to synchronize processes. This eliminates the need for repetitive data entry and minimizes human error:
- Use bookkeeping integrations with QBO, Xero, Aplos, Sage, Sage BCA, and Sage Intact
- Connect to HR tools such as Lattice, 15Five, Greenhouse, and Lever
- Serve your retail and restaurant clients using Point-of-Sales solutions Clover and Shopify
- Connect with any other number of software systems in time-tracking, expense management, collaboration, and more.
Partnering with software helps simplify and streamline your processes and free up time for you to uplevel your game. So how can you confidently be the advisor your clients need?
How to leverage software as an advisor
It’s understandable that you might be hesitant to dive into an advisory role. Accountants have been trained in numbers, not people. Advisory is a completely different ball game. It’s more complicated and nuanced, and not everyone may feel like they’re up for it. However, with the right software and training, you can become more confident and capable in your advisory services.
You can receive training through Gusto’s People Advisory Certification and Accelerator Program. Being a people advisor means you’ll pair financial data analysis with people operations such as hiring and benefits. By becoming certified, you’ll gain tools to help you consider the bigger picture of your client’s business. You’ll help clients make decisions that benefit both their staff and their bottom line.
“How often have business advisors historically drawn that correlation between people data—such as employee retention, team wellness—and financial results such as revenue? Not often. We believe that the marrying of people’s data with financial data will make you a better advisor to your small businesses and differentiate you from your peers.”– Nora Tucker
Since becoming an advisor is only the first step, you can enroll in the Accelerator Program to learn how to monetize your services. It gives you a framework from end to end on how to set up, market, and implement advisory services in a way that works for your firm.
You can also use Gusto Pro to assist you in your services. As integrated payroll and HR software, Pro provides a unique dashboard to guide you in your advisory. It’s unique in that it considers a holistic picture of data complete with suggestions for advisory and insights you couldn’t find on your own.
“We aim to give you the insights, not just the data. If we go back to that whole capacity challenge, you shouldn’t have to capture all the data from a myriad of different reports and do your own analysis, despite the fact I know you love spending time in spreadsheets. Our vision is to collect and crunch that data for you and then present the resulting insights, including suggestions on advisory conversations to engage in with your clients.”– Nora Tucker
Additionally, you’ll have access to easy-to-read reports demonstrating ROI to your clients. You’ll be able to track the results of your advisory practice over time and estimate the impact of your actions in a visually appealing chart you can present to your clients.
“When I see the Gusto Pro dashboard for accountants, this is what I see. I see a control center for making small businesses successful at scale, with all those mundane compliance tasks automated away and only the high-value interactions left in its place with actionable insights proactively surfaced for you, allowing for seamless communications with your clients in the intersection of people and financial data. This enables you to create not just higher-performing businesses, but better places to work. That’s how we help you serve your clients.”– Nora Tucker
Furthermore, using Gusto gives you an “in” with the hundreds of thousands of businesses using Gusto on their own.
“We have over 200,000 small businesses using Gusto today, a number that’s rapidly growing, but only 40% of those small businesses are currently connected to an accountant. Given that small businesses are 40% more likely to survive if they partner with an accountant, it’s really important to us to close that gap by referring you, our trusted accountant partners, to these small businesses that are seeking your guidance. Now, that is getting a lot out of your software partner.”– Nora Tucker
Learn more about partnering with software
Using accounting software can free up capacity and build your capabilities as an advisor. Approach what you have to offer differently by considering your client’s overall picture. Software can help you pair people issues—such as HR and benefits—with financial issues. This means you can help your clients have a better-balanced business. To best serve them, you’ll want to automate repetitive tasks, integrate accounting with other processes, become certified in advising, and use Gusto’s dashboard to generate insights.
Check out the full lineup from Gusto Next 2021 to gain even more insights into the future of accounting.
Becoming a Gusto Partner can make your life easier. Get payroll and HR support for your team and our new advisory revenue stream for your practice through our people advisory platform. As a Gusto partner, you’ll also get tools to help you expand your accounting practice and offer your clients new insights, plus a free payroll subscription for your own accounting firm. Sign up today!