As a trained and licensed CPA, you offer your clients more than bookkeeping and accounting skills. You provide them with an expert resource they can rely on for financial, compliance and tax-related guidance and strategy. In short, you are a trusted advisor to your clients. In that role, you can build deeper relationships when you are able to help address challenges and achieve business objectives in areas outside of your immediate purview.
In addition to protecting your current book of business, expanding your services provides the opportunity to improve your bottom line. Now as a CPA, the functional areas of HR, payroll and employee benefits are the most logical and natural conduit to the services you provide. Let’s take a deeper dive at what adding HR advisory services would mean and how best to get started.
What are the fundamentals of HR advisory?
HR advisory services are relatively new to the accounting world, but there are CPA firms that have already added it to their repertoire. Due to increased competitive pressure, it has become extremely important for CPA service providers to position themselves as a source of counsel for clients. So some firms started exploring options beyond what the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants classifies as key services: audits and assurance functions, tax filing, financial statement preparation, evaluation of contracts and so on. By this rationale, offering advice on HR-related functions directly involving financial matters, namely payroll, compensation and benefits administration was a logical evolution.
While all of these components would be included in an HR advisory service, there are many other key aspects of HR where your clients may need guidance. For example:
- Recruiting: Employers face heavy competition when trying to secure talent in a global job market. Providing them with access to tools to help craft better job descriptions or a career center that reflects the company’s culture can make the difference in recruitment efforts.
- Onboarding: In the initial stages of onboarding, there are plenty of Is to be dotted and Ts to be crossed — filling out W-4s and I-9s, signing employment contracts and other legal documents, setting up direct deposit for payroll and so on. Enabling your clients to automate as much of this process as possible through HR software will help them save valuable time and allow them to get new hires contributing more quickly.
- Training: In addition to providing professional learning opportunities, some states require specific training (i.e. sexual harassment) by law. Helping your clients understand what training they are legally required to administer and providing access to a platform through which to deliver required and voluntary training is another value-added service you could provide.
- Compliance: Few professions deal with the burden of compliance more than accounting — federal and state tax codes, financial and banking laws across countless jurisdictions, you name it. For your employer clients, compliance stretches far beyond financial regulations; it is one of the most time-consuming responsibilities of HR professionals. Being able to provide your clients with the tools and resources to more effectively manage HR-related compliance requirements would elevate your trusted advisor status perhaps more than any other service you may offer.
- Employee Benefits: Employers face an ongoing struggle between offering a competitive benefits package that attracts and retains top talent and managing the rising costs of healthcare. Similar to their need for tax advice from a certified CPA, your clients need a licensed broker they can trust to provide strategic guidance and personalized solutions that address both the well-being needs of employees and their families and the company’s financial obligations.
Why add HR advisory services to your portfolio?
In a nutshell: as a CPA that offers HR advisory services, you can effectively position yourself as an auxiliary wing of your clients’ HR department. For small businesses that have very small HR teams — or a “department of one” — the more you can do to help your clients address key pain points, reduce operational costs and increase efficiency, the more valuable you become. The deeper your client relationships, the higher your client retention and the greater the opportunity for increased referral business.
Once you establish HR advisory as a key value proposition of your firm, you have a distinct competitive advantage offering firms that are not offering expanded services. This may open doors to new markets and larger-sized clients resulting in new revenue streams and a positive impact on your bottom line.
Your expertise is accounting — so you’ll need a strong partner
Building deeper relationships, offering value-added services and creating a competitive differentiator all sounds wonderful, But, when it comes to HR software platforms (beyond payroll) or compliance (beyond tax-related regulations), or helping create more efficient processes in the areas of recruiting, onboarding, benefits administration or performance, you may be questioning your ability to deliver these services. Also, if your clients are looking for employee benefits consulting, unless you are a licensed broker, there is a limit to what you can do.
For these reasons, you need to rely on a trusted partner with expertise and experience in HR, payroll, employee benefits, talent management and compliance — from both the technology and services points of view. While you could partner with an employee benefits broker, a payroll provider, a benefits administration platform vendor, an HR consultant and an attorney specializing in employment law, why try to manage multiple vendors — or ask your clients to do the same — when you can partner with a single company who shares your commitment to serving your clients?
PeopleStrategy is a full-service employee benefits brokerage that offers employers a proprietary suite of technology to manage recruiting, hiring and onboarding, payroll and tax filing, benefits administration, time, attendance and scheduling; employee data management, compliance, reporting and analytics — all in a single platform. Because we own, implement and service our technology ourselves, we have the ability to partner with you based on your goals and objectives. You determine what type of partnership works best for you.
The PeopleStrategy partner bundle of robust HR software, brokered benefit offerings and related support services enables you to better support your client’s business needs while eliminating the hassle of working with multiple vendors or the time commitment of learning new skills.