29 Mar, 2023
Meet Geni Whitehouse CPA, founder of The Impactful Advisor, self-described nerd, and believer of the magic in numbers. In this article, Geni shares the importance of being a trusted strategic guide for your clients, and how to help them make smarter decisions to reach their true objectives.
By now we’ve all heard about the importance of strategic advisory services like financial forecasting. Many business owners are looking for more than just numbers from their advisors. They’re seeking forward-thinking guidance that allows them to plan for their future. But what does that really look like and how can that work take shape in advisor-client relationships?
Geni Whitehouse is an expert advisor, award-winning keynote presenter, CPA, author, and thought leader. Geni spent many years in the world of tax but found herself interested in offering more engaging and impactful services to her clients that could really help them get where they wanted to go. On her quest to find an interactive advisory toolkit that she could use, Geni found Fathom.
We recently sat down with Geni to get her best advice for advisors interested in offering financial forecasting services to their clients. Below, Geni takes us through the key steps to becoming your client’s trusted guide as they map out their journey and move forward toward their dreams.
Where are they trying to go?
To be an effective guide for our clients, we must first understand their goals.
You can’t plot your path forward without a destination in mind. First, we must “define the dream” as Geni says.
She recommends starting by asking questions about what really matters to the client. Standard measures like increased profitability or revenue growth sound positive, but they may not resonate with your client, who has specific aims for their business and personal motivations.
You may want to start with questions like:
- “Why did you start this business?”
- “Why did you get into this industry?”
- “What aspect of the business are you most passionate about?”
Truly listen to your client’s answers to uncover what their north star is. You’re the guide that can translate what they’re sharing into financial decisions and moving pieces in their business: this is a key reason they are coming to you! In asking questions like these, you will begin to really understand the people behind the business and what makes them tick.
Understanding their passions, motivations, and what matters most to them is vital to an engaged relationship going forward.
Where are they starting from?
Understand the current standing of the business and set a baseline from which to move forward.
As with any journey, in order to map out the best path forward we need to have a clear picture of our starting point. The information gathered in this stage will help to better understand the business and what their best route forward may look like.Connect their financials to Fathom
- Your client’s financial data will flow through from their source accounting software, no human error or second-guessing; so you can start to get a clear picture of where they are at.
- Fathom helps “to give your clients a different view into their financial statements”, providing insights and information in a more engaging format than standard financial statements they may be used to.
Ask questions to gain more context from your client. Geni recommends going through three key questions: “what is going well?”, “what could be going better?” and “what does the ideal outcome look like?” across four core areas of the business: financial, customers, operations, and people.
Other questions that may help illuminate the current state of the business:
- What key decisions or changes are on the horizon?
- What is going well in the business?
- What could be going better?
- What has hurt the business in the past?
Whichever format or approach you choose, discussing these key questions will allow you to get a clearer picture of what is currently at play for your client and is crucial in mapping their course for the future.
How will they get there?
Map out a strategic plan. As with any journey, there are various routes we could take to get there.
Your client will likely have different ideas and options of how to get to their goals. As the advisor, you can provide value by helping them navigate these choices.
Now that we have pinpointed our ideal destination and have an accurate picture of our starting point, we can begin exploring various routes to get from A to B. This is where Fathom’s dynamic forecasting features come into play.
Geni’s recommended Fathom forecasting workflow:Get Started Quickly
Avoid spending hours in spreadsheets. Choose from three forecast onboarding methods to get started efficiently in Fathom: custom, quick start, or link to budget or import a forecast.Customise
Tailor the forecast to your client’s unique business by setting up drivers and value rules.
Use microforecasts to model singular business decisions or adjustments to your plan.
Explore the impacts of microforecasts by using the business roadmap tool, which provides a timeline view of your microforecasts. This tool allows you and your client to engage with key business decisions in a visual way and can help inform the best strategic route.Provide different routes forward
Scenarios represent the different paths that the business could take to get from their starting point to their destination. Perhaps you plot out “best case” and “worst case” scenarios with your client, or “Plan A” and “Plan B.” Exploring various scenarios helps your client prepare for the future.
Share the forecast you’ve built with your client, their team, and any other key stakeholders. This allows everyone involved to align around the same goals and to see how their work impacts the business’s journey toward those objectives.
Bonus: Forecast auditing
Fathom gives you a paper trail of any adjustments you’ve made to actuals – this is a huge asset as an advisor because it allows you to check your work and confidently answer questions from your clients.
What lies ahead?
The Roadmap for the Future
Unfortunately, none of us has a crystal ball that will show us exactly how things will play out and what the future holds for our clients and their businesses. However, with the right tools, processes and approach, you can partner with your clients to help them reach the future of their dreams.
Fathom empowers you as the advisor to quickly build a plan, adjust where appropriate, and recalibrate dynamically as real events play out in your client’s business.
When we start shifting from tracking results to providing new insights for our clients, that’s when our value goes up.
Interested in learning more? Check out the recording of our webinar with Geni Whitehouse below.
Written by Rowan Eister
Rowan is the Head of Marketing & Partnerships for Fathom’s US team. Over her 5 years with Fathom she has worked with businesses, financial advisors, and firms of all shapes and sizes. She is passionate about shining a light on the ways that Fathom transforms relationships and improves outcomes for financial professionals and businesses. Rowan holds a Bachelor of Arts from Whittier College and has worked in relationship building in the technology space for the past eight years.