Gusto Next: The Path to People-Focused ROI

Gusto Editors

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.

In the early 20th century, a Hungarian immigrant traveled to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream. He worked on an assembly line in the Ford factory in Michigan and raised eight children, one of whom eventually moved to California to carve out his little slice of paradise. He started a janitorial business that went on to supply work for 70 full-time employees.

This is just one of countless stories illustrating how people and perseverance are the heart of every business. As an accountant, you’re in a unique position to assist businesses with invaluable tools to help bring out the best in their staff, such as HR, payroll, hiring, and benefits. Here at Gusto, we refer to these different core business functions as “people operations.”  

The Hungarian immigrant who carved his slice of the American dream in Michigan is the great-grandfather of Jaclyn Anku, the Partner Education Manager at Gusto. Jaclyn is an expert consultant and assists small businesses with finances and people operations. She presented a segment for Gusto Next 2021 covering a critical topic for small and midsize businesses: people advisory. People advisors assist businesses with people operations so that they can improve their work environment for employees while also strengthening their businesses.  

Jacyln covered great learning tools your firm can use to get started with providing people advisory services for your clients, including Gusto’s new People Advisory Accelerator program. Our new Accelerator program can equip your firm with people advisory resources so that you can guide your business clients in HR, payroll, and benefits.

In addition to Jaclyn’s presentation, the other Gusto Next 2021 segments feature more informative material on people advisory and the future of accounting. You can also watch the full event here or read our Gusto Next 2021 wrap article, which covers invaluable insights from the event. 

Offering people-focused services: HR advisory, payroll, and benefits

The accounting industry and the businesses they serve have undergone significant changes in the last decade because of technological advancement, and the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the shift. Accounting firms and their clients now have to adapt to hybrid work environments where some employees are in-office while others work remotely.

Businesswoman interviewing male job candidate in seating area of modern office

Additionally, there’s a significant labor shortage across the industries that accountants serve, such as manufacturing, construction, and business services. With the emerging hybrid work environment and labor shortage, businesses need assistance with managing their employees. Jaclyn Anku observed that employers need to rethink their approach to hiring in the competitive labor market: 

“Employers are being forced to adapt, and they need your help. … Your clients need your advice on how to win and keep talent in a competitive market. They need help learning how to build an affordable benefits package to take care of their team’s physical and financial wellbeing. They [also] need guidance on building systems and culture that supports a remote workforce. What they need is the hope of a people advisor, an accountant who pairs financial expertise with people operations to advise clients on building a great place to work. “

Jaclyn Anku

Businesses need guidance in onboarding and retaining employees in the competitive labor market. In fact, 47% of businesses with more than 25 employees stated that people management was the main area in which they needed assistance according to an employer survey conducted by Gusto. Additionally, 41% of businesses said they’d be willing to pay their accountants 20% for help with their people strategy. On top of that, 60% stated that they would be inclined to switch to an accounting firm that provides people advisory services, such as HR, payroll, and benefits

Advisory can seem intimidating and you might wonder how to get started. Jaclyn noted that your firm is capable of offering people-based services if you’re already offering payroll:

“What’s stopping you from offering people advisory services? I’ll be the first to acknowledge that building an advisory practice may seem hard. You might wonder, ‘How do I package, staff, price, sell my people advisory services? What’s my margin in offering people advisory?’ Here’s the thing: if you already offer payroll, it’s a complete no-brainer to pivot how the service has been traditionally positioned to using it as the foundation of your people advisory practice.”

Jaclyn Anku

Accounting firms often use payroll as a bookkeeping add-on, and it serves as a great jumping-off point for offering people advisory services. You can use payroll and people advisory through Gusto to deliver more value to your clients:

“When you break it out and use payroll as a starting point for people advisory, you can deliver services where clients get payroll technology powered by Gusto. [You get] access to your team’s expertise, advice on payroll, benefits, people-operation support, and … data-driven people advisory insights and analysis. When combined, these elements create people advisory packages that drive recurring revenue at your firm. What’s more, if clients need deep-dive analysis focusing on specific areas, you can offer project-based add-ons which complement the recurring package services to create your complete people advisory offering.”

Jaclyn Anku

Offering people advisory services through Gusto provides your clients with invaluable insights and resources for people management. People advisory empowers your firm to improve its ability to assist clients while increasing revenue.

How to build relationships with clients through people advisory

Although your firm may want to move forward with offering people advisory services on top of payroll, it can be challenging to get started. Fortunately, Gusto now offers a People Advisory Accelerator program so that your firm can get started with building stronger relationships with clients. 

The program walks you through… 

  • How to design your people advisory service packages
  • How to staff for your people advisory packages
  • How to get the word out to existing and prospective clients about your new people advisory packages 
Smiling male worker speaking on phone consulting client online

In addition, you’ll gain tools and templates to get started right away! These resources include…

  • Predesigned people advisory service packages
  • A staffing guide so you can identify team leads who will deliver the service
  • Pricing made simple through a ready-made calculator so you can understand your margin
  • Prebuilt marketing and sales guides, including a pre-built people advisory webpage

The People Advisory Accelerator program provides your firm with everything it needs to get started with people advisory. It’s an invaluable resource with an incredible return on investment. Firms that have already offered advisory services can now monetize it through Gusto. 

Jaclyn cited multiple Accelerator success stories, including the businesses of Josh Lance, Kenji Kuramoto, Nicole Mackenzie, and Michael Ly. All four business owners went through the People Advisory Accelerator program, and they all tripled their payroll revenue in less than three months.  

On top of increasing revenue, you’ll also build stronger relationships with your clients. 

“The impact of launching a people advisory practice can be best visualized as a circle starting with you empowering your team. Through people advisory, they can do more than provide transactional payroll services. They can have deeper relationships with clients that enrich both their interactions and their careers. Under your team’s guidance, clients will understand what motivates their employees, so that they can keep them happy and healthy [and keep them] around longer.”

Jaclyn Anku

When you assist your clients and build relationships through the People Advisory Accelerator program, your clients will have an easier time retaining employees and strengthening their work culture. Your clients’ success with their teams then results in more profitability for your accounting firm. 

How the best accounting firms use the People Advisory Accelerator program

The People Advisory Accelerator program is included in Gusto’s partner program at no additional cost. Jaclyn gave detailed instructions on how accounting firms can immediately start using the Accelerator program: 

“It can be accessed by clicking on the Gusto Learn tile in your Gusto Pro dashboard. Once [you’re on] Gusto learn, you can get started with a program at your own time [and at] your own pace. I’d recommend setting aside about four hours to complete it and tapping your firm’s leadership to take it alongside you, and you’ll even earn four CPE credits in the process.”

Jaclyn Anku

The Accelerator program is incredibly flexible, and firms can go through the process in their own way. If your firm isn’t partnered with Gusto, you can still use the Accelerator program. It’s available on Gusto Learn for a small fee. Even if you’re not partnered with Gusto, the Accelerator program is a great investment for your firm, and you can begin to provide critical guidance to your clients. The Accelerator program will empower your team to provide invaluable employee support: 

“People advisory is a journey, and it starts by building your team’s expertise and foundation through becoming people advisor certified. That way, you have the confidence, knowledge, [and] skillset to go deliver people advisory services. Now through Accelerator, firm leaders can take the next step in building a profitable practice because you have the tools and frameworks needed to really scale and monetize people advisory services.”

Jaclyn Anku

With people advisory, your firm gains the ability to offer life-changing services to clients while also monetizing your services to increase your firm’s revenue. The program is an excellent next step in growing your firm and your clients’ businesses. 

Learn more about people advisory services

People advisory is a great way to help your clients expand their businesses in the changing professional landscape. With the evolving work environment and challenging labor market, your clients need your help more than ever with both financial and people management guidance. As an accountant, you’re in a unique position to help your clients’ businesses, and you can also bring in more revenue for your firm by providing people advisory services. If you’re unsure how to get started, consider Gusto’s People Advisory Accelerator program.

 Looking for more ways to assist your clients and prepare your firm for the future? Watch the entire Gusto Next 2021 presentation here, and you can also read our article covering some of the most valuable moments from the event. Additionally, consider joining the waitlist for Gusto Next 2022, where our experts will offer even more insights into the future of accounting.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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