The Launch of the People Advisory Program

Gusto Editors

Gusto Next is a live, interactive event, uniting industry experts from across the country. On July 30th, the Gusto team took to Zoom to discuss the future of the accounting industry and to unveil tools that revolutionize the way accountants advise clients. 

If you prefer to watch the video, click here! Or read on to learn more about Gusto’s new People Advisory Program!

Our keynote speaker of this event was the incredible Lexi Reese. Formerly as the VP of Google Global Sales and Strategy, Lexi Reese continues her incredible leadership and advocacy for small businesses and accounting professionals here at Gusto. As Gusto’s Chief Operating Officer, she leads the company’s business teams, including Marketing, Sales, Customer Experience, and Business Operations. 

We had several other speakers during this event, one of whom was the wonderful Jaclyn Anku — the Partner Education Manager of Gusto. In this article, you’ll hear from both Lexi and Jaclyn about the new service Gusto is launching: the People Advisory Program.  

This platform is truly the first of its kind, using payroll as an avenue to deepen advisory services. By enrolling in the People Advisory Certification course, you will receive the tools you need to bring payroll, benefits, and people operations into your client advisory services. 

Want to learn more about what makes this program unique? Keep reading to learn why the People Advisory Program is helping small businesses achieve the impossible.

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The dangers of automated payroll systems

Before we get into the specifics of the People Advisory Program, let’s talk about what we’re up against — automated payroll systems. 

This is a major issue that affects the well-being of both small businesses and their accountants. For decades, clients have relayed on you for payroll, but today, many of these services are now automated by software. This not only tears into your personal revenue but these automated programs also don’t give small businesses the tools they need to survive and thrive. 

“At Gusto, we believe in technology as an enabler but never a replacement for accountants whose value, professional worth, and expertise is far greater than any software stack.”

Lexi Reese, Gusto COO

As Lexi said, we love technology — we just don’t see it as a replacement for people. Technology has optimized several areas of accounting for the better, however; we want to create opportunities for you, not take them away via software. While automation is great for solving process matters like calculating payroll and providing a cloud-based data bank, automation is not the answer to everything. 

Here are some things automation can’t do:

  • Automation cannot build balanced and inclusive teams.
  • Automation cannot take into account the context of a business’ specific human situation.
  • Automation cannot adjust business models when a global pandemic hits.
  • Automation cannot create great places to work.

These are serious problems that need to be addressed. That’s why we’re empowering you — our accounting partners — to start offering People Advisory services for your small business clients. People Advisory, powered by Gusto is the first and only platform that uses payroll as a gateway to broader and deeper advisory services. We’ll provide you with real tools, education, and training that will teach you how to approach this new role as a People Advisor, bringing payroll, benefits, and people operations into your daily advice for clients.

The People Advisory Program: Accountants as full-business advisors

Through our People Advisory Certification course, we’re putting you in the position to be full business advisors. You’ll advise your clients on talent strategy, hiring ability, and budget for employee benefits. Small businesses need this advice more than ever because more changes are always coming. If a client shifts its business model from a dine-in restaurant to a pop-up kitchen doing takeaway and delivery service, for example, the people they hire and what’s important to them are going to change. Their talent strategy has changed, their budget has changed, and they need you to advise them.

When you become a People Advisor, conversations about your clients’ teams become these amazing moments to build trust with small businesses. You can provide proactive advice to steer the business owner in the right direction and save their employees from being crushed in the circumstance of not having a paycheck or health insurance when they need it the most. Your financial acumen paired with our People Advisory training will empower you to not only discuss budget forecasting with your clients but also to build productive, engaged teams. 

Additionally, you’ll have the tools you need to handle tricky HR scenarios such as wrongful terminations. Breakwater, an accounting firm based out of Wilmington, Delaware, recently shared a story with us about how a non-profit client found themselves in hot water over an issue relating to a disgruntled former employee.

The stress and cost of handling this on their own were overwhelming. So, Breakwater leveraged the HR experts that are part of Gusto Concierge to provide the non-profit with proper counsel that gave them the confidence and facts to manage the situation. The result was a truly happy client who has continued to lean on Breakwater and grow their business.

We’ve been offering this type of advice for a couple of years through Gusto Concierge, but through People Advisory and the accompanying education programs, we’re now providing even more solutions in ways right-sized for you to advise your clients on everything from compliance basics to providing risk mitigation and counsel on complicated and nuanced team situations. This is the full-service advisory that businesses need right now.

Let’s be honest — no other payroll company has taken your partnership seriously, but we are changing that, right here, right now, with People Advisory, powered by Gusto. We are committed to using our services and technology not to replace accountants but to strengthen and expand your value. 

The accounting profession is changing quickly, and we all need to lean in and push technology companies to redefine what it means to be a partner — a human-centered partner. Expect more from your software vendors. We do.

Lexi Reese, Gusto COO

Empowered by People Advisory, you’ll continue to make a huge impact with your clients — and they’ll notice. 

Woman sitting at a table with her computer smiling at another person

Case in point: Why people-operations matter

The need for accountants to deliver people advisory services existed long before COVID because, let’s face it, people are complicated. Clients need your help to make sense of how human dynamics affect business results and vice versa.

Jaclyn Anku — the Partner Education Manager of Gusto — had a personal story to share about how people operations affected her job and her fellow employees back when she was in college. She worked as a waitress at Bissap Boabab — a West African restaurant and nightclub located in San Francisco. At first, Jaclyn thought that this would just be a part-time job, but it turned out to be a much meaningful experience.

Bissap Boabab was special. It had this magnetic pull that drew in people from all walks of life because they loved the sense of community that they experienced there. And yet, as is typical with many small businesses, employee turnover was high. I saw my friends and colleagues move on to other jobs that afforded them things like health benefits and a retirement plan and, frankly, even just a better PTO policy. So the owner, Marco, was stuck thinking about how he could build a team [that] would stay for the long term, and he turned to his accountant for advice. … [His accountant] advised him on the financials, which makes sense, … but like Lexi said, it isn’t enough because what Marco really needed was an advisor who saw beyond the numbers … [someone] could help him make sense of how to create a great place to work where employees did stay for the long term.

Jaclyn Anku, Gusto Partner Education Manager

Numbers will only tell you so much when it comes to a business. What really matters are the people. 

Previously at Xero, Jaclyn has been working with accountants for over five years at Gusto, and she said that she only met a small handful of accountants who would consider themselves “experts” on people operations. 

Until now, there hasn’t been any training designed for accountants to build expertise on payroll and benefits. But once you become certified as a People Advisor, you’ll have the tools to help your clients on an even greater level and build your personal revenue as well!

How do you become People Advisor Certified?

Here at Gusto, we believe with the right education, you can pair your financial expertise with a working knowledge of people operations. You can help clients like Marco build great places to work. All you have to do is enroll in Gusto’s People Advisory Certification Program!

This program is truly one-of-a-kind, and it teaches you so much more than just product training. By becoming People Adviser Certified, you will build expertise on payroll, benefits, and HR so that you’ll feel confident that your clients and their employees are taken care of. 

You’ll also become an expert on Gusto’s People Platform. You and your team can help clients discover features that will save them time and ultimately help them strengthen their relationships with employees. 

“Most importantly, the program teaches you how to analyze the people-story that the numbers tell so that you can confidently lead discovery about teams and recommend tools and resources that help clients manage the employee-journey.”

Jaclyn Anku, Gusto Partner Education Manager

People like Macro need you. He still struggles with employee turnover to this day. Jaclyn had the chance to catch up with him a few weeks ago, and he asked her if she knew anyone who specialized in people operations. That person could be any one of you. 

Are you ready to get started? The People Advisory Certification course can be taken at your own convenience and pace, and you can access it right from your Gusto Pro Dashboard! By clicking on the Gusto Learn tile, you’ll be taken to our brand new home for partner education, training, and resources. 

The certification curriculum consists of three chapters on payroll, benefits, and HR, each of which features hands-on tutorials, interactive lessons, and insights from industry-leading experts. Once you’ve finished the course, you’ll receive a People Advisory Certified Badge that will communicate your status as a people operations expert to your clients. 

In addition to receiving the badge, we’ll also reward you CPE credits for becoming certified! And we have a little something up our sleeves for the first 100 partners to complete the program from our friends and beloved Gusto customer, Keep Your City Smiling.

Why wait? At Gusto, we’re excited to support your work as practitioners, and we’re also equally committed to helping you build your own firm. Get started with People Advisory to level-up your career and make a difference for small businesses. 

Want to learn more about the People Advisory program?

We covered a lot today, but most notability is the urgent need of People Advisory. Gusto is committed to being your partner in this journey and providing you with the education, tools, and tech you need to step deeper into your role as a holistic business advisor. 

We also are thrilled to announce some additional People Advisory resources that Gusto is adding to your tech-stack! To learn more, check out this article featuring Will Lopez — the head of the accounting community at Gusto and the Founder of AdvisorFi

If you have any further questions about the program, don’t hesitate to comment below or contact us today

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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