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Integrative Advisory Services

Expanding Your Accounting Services Beyond the Cloud




Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA








Integrative Advisory Services is the CPA, accounting professional, and bookkeeper's guide to the future. As technology paves the way for increased self-reliance and do-it-yourself financial services, much of the traditional data entry tasks of accounting professionals and bookkeepers will be reduced. It is time for the accounting industry to change how it does business.

Nothing can replace the human side of the client–advisor experience and the desire to improve clients' businesses with financial information. Technology will continue to march forward, so accounting professionals must adapt to the changing marketplace to thrive in this new paradigm.

This book shows how to provide the kind of value that technology cannot offer: human connection. Rather than simply reporting data, today's accounting professionals have an opportunity to take a more active role in their clients' business by analyzing the story behind the numbers, understanding both operations and finance, and guiding their clients toward the outcomes they need.

Learn how to take on more of an advisory role and become a critical component of your clients' success by:

  • Spending less time crunching numbers and more time advising clients
  • Becoming an integral part of your clients' decision-making process
  • Providing real value by communicating financial data analysis
  • Becoming the strategic partner your client cannot do without—a cherished advisor


I want to thank my husband, Rob, and my children, Jagger and Austin, who have supported me through the ups and downs of my career and encouraged me to always strive for what my heart desires.

My grandfather has been a mere memory since I was 3 years old at the time of his passing, but he had a huge impact on my career. His legacy inspired me to pursue a life's mission of helping small businesses survive and grow.

My mother provided the example of being a business owner herself and involved me at a young age. She provided me with the experience that created the foundation and vision of what I wanted to do with my life.

A heartfelt thanks to my clients over the years, who taught me so much about the right and wrong ways to advise them. The experience I gained from seeing the impact of my advice on their businesses was so satisfying and rewarding that I have made a career since of training others on how to do it as well.

Much gratitude to Xero Accounting Software, who provided the support and encouragement for me to put this book together.

For their time and expertise, I want to thank Kathryn Duggan, Alex Mercer, Himanshu Singh, Matthew Solan, and Corina Standiford. Your contributions to this process of writing of this book have made a great impact.

I also want to thank the accounting practices from around the world that contributed real-world examples from their firms that supplement the topics described in this book: Amanda Aguillard, Aaron Berson, Paul Bulpitt, David Emmerman, Will Farnell, Jay Kimelman, Kenji Kuramoto, Shelly Lingor, Michael Lopez, Ryan Miller, Neil Sinclair, James Solomons, and Ryan Watson. Their contributions show not only the universal struggles of accountants, but also how we can overcome them by being innovative (and smart) about the need to create long-lasting and prosperous relationships with our clients. Their expert insight is much appreciated.

Additional thanks to Sheck Cho, Michael Henton, Judy Howarth, and Alex Vegbey at Wiley for their support and answers throughout the process.


Since I was 12 years old, I knew I was going to be a certified public accountant (CPA). I grew up with stories about my Grandfather's CPA practice, which he began in the 1930s with the purpose of positively impacting the business owners in his immigrant neighborhood in St Paul, Minnesota. He was what I call the cherished advisor of his day—providing guidance to small business owners on financial decisions that were strategic for their businesses. Their relationships went way beyond figures and numbers.

My mother, as she grew up, decided not to become an accountant and instead was drawn toward the arts. However, her natural business acumen ended up coming out later when she opened her own maid service operation when I was young. I was involved right from the beginning. After school, I often worked the front desk and did various administrative tasks. I learned early on about the importance of knowing your numbers as a business owner because, unfortunately, my mom was not an accountant, and she found herself making decisions that ended up being detrimental to her business in the long run.

Like many small business owners at the time, my mom didn't have an accountant who was an advisor. Instead, due to limitations of technology, she received strictly compliance financials, and many times six to nine months after the financial year was over. She had no insight into the numbers, nor an accountant who could explain her performance, so she was left to make financial decisions without any guidance.

When my mom took me to trade shows and conferences for her business, I would ask other business owners what major I should choose when entering college. The answer was unanimous: accounting. They told me that no matter what career I eventually chose, having an accounting background would help me make better decisions in business.

In hindsight, I wonder about the root cause of this statement. Is it necessary for everyone to have an accounting degree to run a business? The answer should be no, because if you have an accountant involved with a business who provides insight and advice, the business owner should be able to stay focused on what they are good at, leaving the financial analysis to the experts. But my guess was that these business owners were not getting the advice and involvement from their accountants they needed.

Fast forward to today. We have finally reached a pinnacle moment in the accounting industry in which cloud technology, as well as the onset of artificial intelligence and machine learning, has greatly reduced the time and effort needed for traditional data entry and number crunching.

Technology provides us the opportunity to take our practices in a new and rewarding direction. We can now restructure our firms to offer services to clients that they have wanted for years. There are no more excuses as to why we can't offer these services—only ourselves and not taking the time to restructure our practices. Our clients are adopting the most up-to-date technology on a regular basis. In turn, as accounting professionals, we need to keep up with their needs and be familiar with how they conduct their business and interact with customers.

This new direction for accounting is not a trend. It is the future. The rapid pace of change is one we have never seen before in our industry. Now is the time to make an investment not only in your professional future, but also that of your business.

I have worked with accounting practices and small businesses for more than 20 years as an accountant, advisor, and consultant—offering advice and guidance on how to make these changes in an organized and effective fashion. I have gathered all my experience and interactions over the years into this book to create a comprehensive plan that guides you through building an integrative advisory service for your practice.

The approach goes beyond the latest technology. It's about creating the soft skills needed to market, sell, and deliver your advisory services. It's about how to create the necessary change management and quality control procedures needed internally to ensure you offer only the best service to your clients. It's about learning the skills to guide conversations with a client that go beyond the accounting, to give them the advice they need to maintain positive cash flow, to prevent them from making bad purchasing decisions, or to find innovative ways to create more efficient overhead to generate more profitability.

By becoming a cherished advisor, you will learn how to create an experience for your clients that they have not had before with other accountants or bookkeepers. You become an integral part of the real-time decision-making process; services are delivered proactively, rather than reactively; and you understand both the operational and financial sides of the business. As a result, you become a strategic partner that the business appreciates, highly values, and cherishes.

This book provides the steps you need for this journey into the next phase of accounting. Rather than worrying about whether your job will one day be replaced, be proactive and learn how to retool your skills to be ahead of the pack. The culmination will be that you can integrate these advisory services into your practice, expand your services beyond cloud technology, and be cherished by your clients.