Industry Trends

Why You Should Include HR in Your Advisory Services

Gusto Editors  
Two business owners standing and having a conversation.

When you think about advising your small business clients, do you consider human resource services?

As people advisors, your firm can offer small business clients the personal guidance they need to thrive through challenging scenarios. Potential employees are looking for a place where they feel accepted and understood at work. By providing HR services for your small business clients, you can empower them to create a work environment that employees desire. 

At Gusto, we believe that people should be the core of your firm’s advisory services, and human resources are just that—human. That’s why we have partnered with our friends at CPA Academy to bring you the webinar, “Getting Started With HR Advisory Services.” In this webinar, we demonstrate how your firm can offer clients HR services to give their team peace of mind.

The webinar was hosted by Gusto Editor-at-Large, Caleb Newquist. Caleb was the founding editor of Going Concern, a go-to resource for accountants looking to expand their knowledge about the profession. Additionally, Caleb worked as an active CPA for nearly six years in New York and Denver.

In this article, we cover the importance of expanding your people advisory services to include human resources advisory, HR services for small to medium businesses, and what it means to be a human resource advisor. 

Why should you offer human resource services for SMB clients?

When you think of human resource services, what size business comes to mind? Is it a large corporation with hundreds of workers or a small business with only a few employees? In most cases, people think that only large companies with an extensive workforce need HR. However, human resource services are vital for any business regardless of size.

“My hunch is that when most people think of HR, they probably don’t think of it in the small business context. They probably think about HR in big business. People might think, ‘Why would a business with only a few people need human resources?’ … I think one compelling reason to consider HR advisory services [for small businesses] is relatively simple. Small businesses hire people just like big businesses, and they have to deal with all of the issues that come with having employees. Yes, it’s on a smaller scale, but that doesn’t make it any less important.”

– Caleb Newquist

When you consider that small businesses need to address the same issues as larger businesses, the idea of supplying your small and midsize business (SMB) clients with adequate HR services becomes apparent. Most small businesses do not have a full-time human resources professional on staff, and if they do, that employee probably provides services beyond HR for the company. A non-existent or thinly spread human resources unit within small businesses creates a void in personal care that hinders employee retention.

Group of businesswomen brainstorming new topics and ideas in the boardroom.

A recent report conducted by Xero, a leading online accounting software provider, found that only five percent of accounting firms offered HR advisory as a service to their clients. By providing HR advisory services for your clients, you put your firm in a unique position to build trust between your clients and your firm, while supporting them in a meaningful way.

“HR advisory presents a unique opportunity for firms … because a lot of firms have decided not to do it. …  But if you say, ‘We could really help you in the area of HR,’ they might be intrigued. There’s a lot of potential in this area … that can extend to your marketing and help you stand apart from the competition.”

– Caleb Newquist

As a people advisor, you can fill that human resources gap caused by the size of a small business. Offering HR advisory services gives your firm the unique opportunity to not only function as your clients’ chief financial advisor but also as a trusted partner in human resource services. Ultimately, this allows your firm to branch out and offer more services to improve client businesses beyond finances. 

Five areas human resource services benefit small business clients

Expanding your reach from financial advice to human resource offerings opens the door for improvement in many areas of your clients’ businesses. By acting as an HR advisor, you become more than your clients’ financial partner—you become a valuable resource to how their business runs daily. HR advisory creates possibilities for your clients to provide services for their team, ones usually reserved for larger organizations.

Hiring and onboarding solutions

Hiring may seem like an easy part of running a business. Business owners or managers select applicants, perform interviews, and determine if the applicant is a good fit for the company. However, the hiring process is much more complex than that:

“Hiring seems like a simple matter, but it’s actually very complex. There’s a lot of aspects to it where you can help your clients have a better vantage point about the hiring process and everything that goes into it.”

– Caleb Newquist

When you offer human resource services to your clients, they can create smooth and efficient hiring and onboarding processes for new team members. From assisting with talent acquisition to producing offer letters and onboarding solutions, your firm can make talent acquisition a painless process.

Benefits packages

Quality benefits packages are one of the most sought-after aspects of the job-hunting process. Many times, small businesses struggle to keep up with larger corporations that can offer more attractive benefits offerings. When smaller companies have a solid resource for benefits, they create more opportunities to hire and keep employees.

“Most businesses will be much more successful with hiring if they have a good benefits package to offer. Healthcare, retirement, and family leave are very popular these days. [With] benefits becoming an increasingly diverse area of compensation, it’s also becoming incredibly important to attract talent and retain it. Any of your clients who take their employee engagement seriously will take benefits seriously.”

– Caleb Newquist

As an accountant, you have a unique position to advise your clients on what benefits packages are attractive and trending. That way, you can provide options for your clients to present a unique offering that makes them more successful in attracting people to join their team.

Payroll options

For companies to retain employees, it is necessary to pay them. Prioritizing employee payment may seem like a simple thing from the outside. Still, without the proper guidance, many small businesses find it challenging to organize and efficiently distribute payroll to their employees:

“Payroll is probably the most important part of [HR services] from an employee standpoint. No business will have employees for very long if they don’t pay them, so payroll will be crucial to managing any business. [Companies] with a successful HR function have a very tight and well-managed payroll system that includes overtime, withholding, and all the things that come along with that.”

– Caleb Newquist
Young businesswoman working in modern work station.

Working as both the financial and people advisor for clients puts you in an optimal position to boost their payroll services by keeping things organized. A well-organized and adequately maintained payroll service gives your clients’ employees comfort that their earnings are managed appropriately.

HR management solutions

Human resources management is the most commonly considered side of HR duties. From performance reviews to professional development, HR management covers many intangible aspects of employees and how they influence the business. A well-developed human resource service will promote employee growth throughout the company.

“When it comes to HR management, we’re talking about things like assessing performance, learning and development, and developing workplace policies—all while communicating these things to employees. For your clients, [human resources management] means understanding how to assess performance, best develop their employees, and provide employees with a career path.”

– Caleb Newquist

As a people advisor, you are uniquely positioned to provide these services to your clients. You can give employees an objective viewpoint on how well your clients handle HR management, where they can improve, and where they can provide a better employee experience because your firm has a degree of separation from the business.

Compliance Services

Payroll taxes and mandates, such as the Affordable Care Act, require businesses to have thorough knowledge to maintain proper compliance. Many small business owners either lack a complete understanding of these complex financial laws or the time to handle everything needed to prevent problems from arising:

“Compliance kind of makes the world go round. … [Accountants] can provide perspective and insight to their clients about how best to manage these compliance tasks within HR. It’s a lot of work, but small businesses need some help to effectively manage all these components.”

– Caleb Newquist

Because of your financial acumen and knowledge about tax law, you are in a unique position to understand what your clients need surrounding compliance concerning HR. This position makes it possible to help your clients successfully navigate these mandates. 

Learn more about HR advisory services and becoming a human resource advisor

Human resource services can be challenging for small businesses. As a trusted human resource advisor, your firm can help your SMB clients create an effective HR solution for their company. Your unique position as both a financial and people advisor allows you to offer clients both the advice and services they need to succeed in the realm of HR.

If you are interested in learning more about opening your firm to offering human resource advising services for your clients, check out the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to look out for parts two, three, and four of this webinar article series for a more in-depth look at how you can serve your clients through HR and the best HR analysis reports to offer your clients. 

Our mission at Gusto is to create a world where accountants focus on their clients’ people as much as their finances. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to train your team to help clients reach their potential. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.

Updated: April 1, 2022

Gusto Editors
Gusto Editors


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