Automation is the name of the game when it comes to carving out more time in your business. By automating processes, you’re freeing up time that you usually spend doing admin tasks. These tasks, while necessary, aren’t helping you with the most important piece of your work: gaining new clients!
One of the primary business functions that you can automate is bookkeeping and accounting. Financial advisors know that these two portions of their business can be incredibly time consuming. Instead of micromanaging the process - automate it.
This will lead to more more time to focus on business tasks you love, a streamlined business model, and more organized books. This creates a better work-life balance for you, and a better experience for your clients. Does it get better than that?
What are the benefits of automation?
Automation is much more than a time-saving tool for your business. Although, admittedly, that perk alone is appealing. Automation sets your financial planning practice up to scale organically. Having your business processes automated creates defined workflows, an efficient way of communicating with team members, clients, and prospects, and more. It helps you clean up your act so that you can get ahead rather than falling behind on daily tasks.
It may sound crazy that you’ll be doing less work but accomplishing more - but it’s true. With predetermined systems in place, you’re less likely to have a task slip through the cracks during your busy workday. It also helps you eliminate human error - which is always a risk we take when we do admin tasks manually day in and day out.
Finally, automation is a key factor in client satisfaction. People are creatures of habit - they want to know what to expect from you and your business. “Surprise and delight” is a concept that only works for product-based businesses. In a service business - like financial planning - you want people to know exactly what they’re getting when they hire you. Having automated processes in place helps them feel comfortable with you as their planner, and it builds the foundation of trust necessary for more referrals!
Do financial planners need financial automation?
As a financial planner, you may feel that anything finance-related is something you can handle yourself. While this may be true, it probably isn’t the best idea. Having one person focus on their business’s finances while also trying to run and grow the business is a recipe for disaster. There are going to be errors - even if they’re not client-facing. You may make a payment twice. Or you may make smaller mistakes - like forgetting to record an expense as tax deductible. Either way, errors in your bookkeeping mean one thing: you’re losing money.
By automating your accounting processes, you’re removing this human element that can lead to a decline in profits. This helps you focus more on the work you’re doing for clients, and less on the day-to-day finances of doing business. The system also helps you create a predictable process for your clients. They know what to expect from you - as well as how and when to pay you.
Having a clearly defined, fully automated payment process in place for clients is critical. Why? People are more likely to pay if you make it easy for them to do so.
You want to make payments easy - either by automatically deducting your fees from their accounts each month, or accepting a wide range of payment options so they can do what’s convenient for them. This will increase cash flow, and lead to higher customer satisfaction. Predictability is a good thing when it comes to accounting.
What aspects of your accounting can be automated?
Sending invoices shouldn’t be something you spend your time doing. Even though it may feel good to have control over getting paid - it’s only going to slow down your productivity. It’s also important to note that clients are more likely to pay early or on time if they have a clear invoicing and payment system.
Why do you think you perpetually fall for the Amazon One-Click payment option? Because it’s easy! Doing invoicing by hand without a system in place makes it hard for your clients to pay you, which means you’re more likely to have a cash flow problem on your hands.
Automated invoicing allows you to set up multiple payment options - or to have payment directly pull from their account each month. This will help to streamline your bookkeeping and stop any miscommunication over unpaid invoices.
The last thing you want to be worrying about is whether or not you missed a payment. If all the software, programs, and services you pay for each month are integral to your business’s success - you don’t want to have those services switched off because you forgot to schedule bill pay.
Do you know what your monthly business expenses are? How about how much you make in revenue? You may have a ballpark idea of these figures - but as a business owner, that’s not always good enough. Being cognizant of your spending can give you the push you need to market to new clients. Alternatively, it can help you highlight areas where you’re underspending and could dedicate more of your budget to provide a better experience for your team members or clients.
Automating your reports helps you to step away from the daily grind and get the big picture of where your business is now, and where you’re going in the future. This helps guide smart business decisions.
Tax Prep and Payment
Taxes can be every business owner’s worst nightmare. You may think it’s enough to hand it all over to a CPA once a year. But what about staying organized year-round? Or maximizing business deductions? Or automating quarterly tax payments? Stay organized year-round is the key to saving money on taxes, and avoiding any over or underpayments.
Business Expense Organization
Do you know how many tax deductible business expenses you aren’t taking advantage of? Ensuring that you categorize business expenses correctly can save you money on your taxes. Automation can also help protect you against the inevitable misinterpretation of what’s not tax deductible. Automation can help detect what’s accurate and what’s not. Just because your friend says you can write off an expense doesn’t make it true - trust us.
For financial planners, audits are no joke. If you show up with the proverbial shoebox of financial information, things aren’t going to go well. Having your books in order ahead of time can help the audit process go smoothly. Automation can help you stay organized, track all of the money coming into and out of your business, and house your information all in one place. Plus, it’s much less embarrassing than digging through endless paper files in your shoebox during the auditing process.
Using the Right Tools
A key to automating your accounting and bookkeeping needs is using the right software and tools. When you outsource these services to FA Bean Counters - we have several systems in place that make your life (and ours) easier.
We partner with HubDocs to automate the document retrieval aspect of your bookkeeping. This software fetches documents from banks, credit cards, TD Ameritrade accounts, Verizon, and more. There’s no more guesswork of going into a client’s account and pulling statements - or time spent on your end of organizing statements and sending them to us.
HubDocs also has a mobile app where you can save photos of receipts while you’re on-the-go - keeping everything stored and organized easily.
Practice Ignition sends contracts and collects payments. These post directly onto your QuickBooks account - which is just another way to streamline processes.
Finally, we know that there needs to be a system to hold everyone accountable. JetPack helps us track your needs and stay on top of tasks so that everyone’s always on the same page. Confusion and miscommunication is the last thing you want when it comes to bookkeeping.
Are you ready to automate?
If you’ve read through all the benefits of automation and still aren’t sure if it’s for you, ask yourself this:
Where is my time best spent?
As a financial planner, we understand that you need to focus on what you do best: working with clients. Non-revenue tasks, like bookkeeping, should be automated or outsourced so that you can focus your energy on generating income. That could mean working with existing clients, or marketing for new ones. Either way, getting hung up on accounting tasks isn’t going to help you grow the awesome practice you set out to build when you started!
We want to help you build your dream advisory business. Assisting you in automating your accounting is one way we do that. At FA Bean Counters, we work with new firms and established firms on ongoing bookkeeping - but we also offer one-time setup and training services. That’s because we know you’ve set out to do great things with your business - and we want to get you there as quickly as possible!