Client Advisory Services (CAS), sometimes referred to as Client Accounting Advisory Services (CAAS), is a specialized field within the accounting profession that provides high-level, individualized, and strategic financial guidance to clients in addition to providing traditional outsourced accounting services. In CAS practices, a group of accountants work together in different roles to act as strategic advisors to their clients.
Specific roles within a CAS team can vary depending on the firm and client’s needs, but here are some common roles you might find in a CAS practice.
The client CFO serves as the key trusted advisor for accounting and advisory clients. In addition to serving as the strategic leader, they also are responsible for managing and mentoring the entire accounting team assigned to each client. The CFO provides high-level advisory services including financial forecasting, cash flow analysis, and other strategic issues facing the client. They are also responsible for analyzing financial data, creating financial models, and offering insights into their clients’ financial performance.
The client controller works directly under the CFO, and they are responsible for maintaining relationships with clients. Since the controller often has the most day-to-day contact with their clients, they understand the client’s needs and work to ensure that the services provided meet those individual needs. They provide solid technical accounting knowledge to the client. CAS practice Controllers are expected to be experts in various accounting and financial reporting standards, including having a solid understanding of financial statement compliance and GAAP.
Client Outsourced Accountant
The client outsourced accountant reports directly to the client controller, and they are responsible for the “traditional” outsourced accounting tasks such as monitoring cash flows, preparing workpapers, reconciling accounts, and more. This role provides the reports that lay the foundation for the advisory work done at the controller and CFO level.
Accounting Specialist: AP/AR clerk
The AP/AR clerk is responsible for the timely and accurate processing of clients’ accounts payable, receivables, and transactional activities using primarily cloud-based technologies.
Technology & Implementation Specialist
The technology and implementation specialist is a unique member of a CAS team because they often are only involved in the early stages of client onboarding. While other members of the team may work with a client for many years, the technology and implementation specialist is primarily involved in the early-stage support of new clients. They often begin working with clients prior to onboarding by assisting in software selection and education on different platforms. It is their job to facilitate a smooth transition for new clients both to their new CAS team and to the new accounting software and technology the team will be utilizing for their engagement. The specialist provides ongoing support for the cloud-based accounting technology, and they advise and support the core CAS team in their use of the various platforms. Unlike the other roles we’ve discussed, the implementation specialist often works independently of a traditional team, and instead, they focus on broadly improving automation, accounting tasks, new processes, and more for the entire CAS client base.
As you can see, there are a variety of different roles that support different skill sets within a Client Advisory Services practice. Client Advisory Services are the fastest-growing service area in public accounting, and it comes as no surprise that many accountants are choosing to dedicate their careers to providing these services. Each role within the CAS team plays a crucial role in the financial health of its clients, and each team member provides a unique perspective that ensures clients are always receiving well-rounded and individualized advice and support.