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I recently had the pleasure of attending a CAAS workshop for Allinial Global member firms. There were 12 firms represented, all at various stages of their CAAS journey. To understand the learning and the opportunities the future holds, it helps to start with the question, ‘What is CAAS?’  

Well, let’s begin with what it isn’t. CAAS is not recording checks written out of five different checkbooks so the client can capture the transactions. It is not transactional bookkeeping or monthly write-ups. Instead, it is a connected and holistic approach that creates consistent processes, cash controls, consolidated financials, multi-entity reporting, full financial visibility, and connections between all cloud-based systems.  

When we refer to CAAS, we mean Client Accounting and Advisory Services. We mean performing the transactional accounting in house so that we have the data to provide those advisory services that business leaders so desperately need. 

The Client Advisory Services (CAS*) Roadmap Workshop 

*Please note that while Allinial Global prefers the acronym CAAS with two As, CPA.com and other organizations use CAS with just one A. The two are used interchangeably in this blog post.

CPA.com’s Amy Bridges and Cherry Bekaert’s Dixie McCurley led this hands-on workshop, allowing our members to assess where they are on the CAAS journey and how to move forward. The workshop was a discovery and planning session. Where are you on your CAAS journey? Where do you want to go? Let’s develop a plan to get there.  

The workshop provided several opportunities to stop and reflect and note potential action steps, all in preparation for the final session where the attendees wrote out their CAAS roadmaps. Facilitators also allowed time for some role play, which helped attendees learn to articulate the value and potential that a robust CAAS practice can provide. 

Attendees are walking away with a documented roadmap of next steps for their CAAS practice. Next steps will vary depending on where you are in the journey, but here are some things you can do to use this momentum to propel your firm forward. 

A successful CAAS practice (which Mark Koziel has outlined in Part 1 and Part 2 of a previous post) requires new and different thinking. I’ve heard Tom Hood say many times before, “First, we have to unlearn. Then, we can relearn.” For CAAS to be successful, we will have to staff differently. We will have to price differently. We will have to work differently. We will have to proceed with open minds and creative ideas. 

CAAS is a huge opportunity for CPA firms to show their clients real, meaningful insights above and beyond what has been done before. It’s an opportunity for our emerging leaders to take ownership of this practice and demonstrate their leadership skills. It’s an opportunity to attract some diverse talent that is really looking to make a difference in the lives of our clients. Let’s seize the opportunity!

According to Erik Asgeirsson, CEO at CPA.com, “CAS is still in the early stages. Maybe in the second or third inning, with still a lot of opportunity to advance.” It’s okay if you are new at this. The most important thing is having the courage to start. Start somewhere. Start now.  Allinial Global will be here to support you each step of the way. Be independent, but don’t go it alone. 

 

 

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