Why business advisory is about much more than simply compliance

Scott Dunbar

Scott Dunbar

Business Advisory Partner

At Johnston Carmichael, we take our role as business advisers seriously and are proud to represent a large number of owner managed businesses the UK.

But I think one common misconception amongst businesses looking for a new accountancy or business advisory firm is that every company out there provides the exact same service, which simply isn’t the case.

We think beyond just compliance matters and put ourselves in our clients’ shoes in order to best understand what opportunities and challenges may lie ahead for them, and then bring those ideas or solutions to the table.  We do this because we strive to be that firm of choice and always aim to go the extra yard to deliver the best possible service.

As a business adviser, we’re not simply focusing on your business being compliant, we’re also advising on the market landscape, how best to structure your company, as well as issues such as whether you could be tweaking your business model to improve margins, and how to make important savings along the way.

Some may think that if they’ve appointed an accountant to do their accounts and tax returns, then they’ll be advising on everything the business and family does, which isn’t always the reality.

So what makes a good business adviser?

Businesses want an adviser who is knowledgeable, trustworthy and a good listener. You need to be engaged with the business and really understand it.

An engaged adviser should be focusing on the future; considering how they can drive your business forward and help you pass it onto the next generation or achieve the exit plan that you desire.

A trusted adviser is also proactive - we don’t wait for the client to come to us with an issue. We try and see any hurdles or opportunities that are coming, highlight them and provide the solutions. We’re a good sounding board, and the hope is that clients will come to us for advice if something unexpected happens.

Business advisory encompasses several different functions, including accounts preparation, digital advisory, outsourced finance, family office services, as well as the role of trusted adviser. We also often advise on non-financial matters such as advising a company’s board on their governance and strategic vision for the future for example.

We have a vast array of specialists to help with any issue, and support companies in a range of sectors, including construction, oil and gas, renewables, food and drink, engineering, hospitality, and tourism, and the rural sector.

Our advisers are confident, strong leaders who are willing to challenge opinion. Agreeing with what the client says when discussing a difficult issue might make for an easier life, but may not always be in their best interest, so you need to be honest in these situations.

An important part of our job is educating the client, whilst appreciating they’re not necessarily a trained accountant, and explaining business matters and the technical side of what we do in a way that a non-accountant would understand.

Often, we’re not just advising people on their business - it can lead to advice on their family, how they fund their kids going off to university, or help them with their steps onto the property ladder, as well as general tax planning and wealth management.

For almost 90 years Johnston Carmichael has had a real focus on being that trusted adviser and we don’t rest on our laurels. With business and technology constantly evolving, we have a responsibility to train up the next generation as the advisers of the future and we have programmes internally that are doing just that.

I believe that a trusted adviser should be, at least, cost neutral because of the value they add to your business. In the majority of cases, the value that’s added through our insight outweighs the cost of the services we deliver, whereas if you are purely looking for compliance, then there will always be a cost attached to that.

Often, we’re not just advising people on their business, it can lead to advice on their family, how they fund their kids going off to university, or help them with their steps onto the property ladder, as well as general tax planning and wealth management.

We are always aspiring to prepare clients for the years ahead, and that’s why I believe a trusted adviser can bring so much more to the table than simply helping to make your business compliant.  

Get in touch

To find out more about how we can support you and your business, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me or another member of our Business Advisory team.

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