The Areti Difference: Consulting Rather than Compliance

There are many jokes about consultants. The oldest and best-known is the saying that “a consultant is someone who borrows your watch and tells you the time.”

As even consultants will tell you, there is a certain amount of truth in this.

To be able to advise on a complex business issue – which is what consulting is at its best – the process has to begin with a reasonably intense procedure (called something like a ‘discovery phase’), in which the consulting team asks questions, requests data, and generates a long report consisting of information that, by definition, is already known.

This phase is essential, though, because, without an intimate understanding of your business, it is impossible to understand the problems your business faces, hence impossible to solve them.

Wouldn’t it be great if the consultant already had this in-depth knowledge? Well, this is why many clients are increasingly turning to existing accounting partners to discuss the complex issues that typically require a consulting approach.

What kind of issues?

At Areti, we see our goal as more than just helping our clients remain compliant. Accurate and timely reporting is a crucial step, but the ultimate destination is a healthy business that makes good decisions and can maximize growth and profitability.

Unlike ‘blue sky’ strategy consulting that attempts to drag-and-drop case studies from unrelated organizations and vaguely suggest you try to do something similar, the best consultants ground their recommendations in bottom-up observations about the reality of your business.

Your financial statements, and an accurate understanding of your profitability, are a pretty good place to start the journey. In our experience, there are always some achievable operational improvements that suggest themselves after a thorough financial review, examining the key ratios and their development over time.

The next step might be to look further into the future, going beyond the tax year and forecasting an achievable trajectory for profit growth. This could raise questions of strategy (i.e. product, marketing approach) or could turn in the direction of capital structure and financing options.

The consulting approach

The difference between a narrow accounting service and a fuller, consulting-oriented offering is one of mindset.

An auditor is attempting to give an answer, whereas the value of a consultant lies in asking the right questions. In cases of strategy, there are very often multiple possible ‘right paths.’

Having a dialogue with an objective 3rd party is the best way to

a) identify and enumerate these paths, b) assess the pros and cons of each option and c) quantify the range of potential outcomes in financial terms, together with the key dependencies.

Einstein is reported to have said, “If I had 60 seconds to save the world, I would spend 59 seconds defining the problem.” Like many quotes attributed to Einstein, there is no evidence that he actually said it, but the saying has endured, and the point is a valid one.

Only you as the business owner can arrive at the ‘answer,’ but in order to do so, you may need help in establishing what the problem is and what the options are to resolve it.

Our team focuses on helping entrepreneurs and draws on experience from a wide variety of industries and sectors. If you face a business issue or strategic problem, it’s highly likely that we’ve encountered it before or helped a client overcome it.

No matter the scope of our engagement, you can always expect us to provide guidance rather than mere answers. After all, you don’t need us to tell you what time it is.

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