In our CPA Academy webinar featuring Hailey Casper, Richard Roppa-Roberts, and Madeline Pratt, we discussed how to leverage data insights and actionable intelligence to provide powerful advisory services. Becoming a data-driven advisor begins with some small steps that lead to ongoing growth and change.

During the webinar, Richard outlined these 5 steps to becoming a data-driven advisor:

 

1) Be data literate.

The goal of being data literate is to use data as a tool or as an asset, and to do so with competence and confidence. Being data literate is more than knowing how to read a graph or chart. It’s knowing how to determine what data is important, how you can access that data, and how best to analyze it. Your client has a deep knowledge of their business, but as an advisor, your knowledge of their data is an important part of what you bring to the table.

 

2) Be curious.

This step is all about asking questions and exploring data from different perspectives. For example, you might have a client who owns a restaurant. That client may have asked you for help figuring out how they can improve sales in typically slower months. To find the insights you need to give them great strategic advice, you could explore their sales data through a number of different lenses. Perhaps by analyzing sales trends over time or by looking at sales trends by customer. This information can tell you a lot, but you may also want to know how sales are being affected by other factors––things you can’t easily find in the financial data.

This is where the idea of being “data curious” really comes into play. Outside of the financial data, what other “data” can you access and analyze? Where can you derive insights from? And how can you tie all of that together? The most important thing is to remain inquisitive. The goal is always to ask great questions of the data. After all, true data-driven advisors know that they don’t have to have all of the right answers, they just have to ask the right questions.

 

3) Be action-oriented.

Think about everything you’ve learned from the data (the insights you’ve uncovered, the intelligence you’ve gained) and ask yourself, “Now what?” What do the insights tell you? Can you use these insights to get closer to the goals you have set with your client?

The insights you’ve uncovered aren’t useful unless you’re able to influence action from them. Your job as an advisor is to guide your client to take actions that will ultimately help them achieve their goals. But your advice to your clients should never be a simple summary of the data. Instead, your job is to help your clients understand what their data is telling them, so they can make decisions and drive change.

 

4) Be communicative.

Consider practicing data storytelling. Focus on explaining the insights, not just the numbers. Context matters. Explaining the “why” behind the “what” will have a much greater impact than simply handing over a generic report. In fact, as a financial professional, you’re probably already practicing the art of data storytelling.

Many apps and tools available in the market make data storytelling more accessible for everyone. Use the tools you have access to! Build meaningful reports and take the time to go over the important details with your clients. Customize dashboards and give your clients access so they can keep an eye on their most important metrics, on their terms. Effective communication ensures everyone is on the same page and pulling the rope in the same direction.

 

5) Be skeptical.

A key skill of data-driven advisors is the ability to be critical of the integrity of the data. Is the data clean? Has it been captured and pushed into the system accurately? Has the data been properly categorized? Is any data missing?

True data driven advisors uphold high data management standards and practice excellent data hygiene. The importance of having good data and working with good data cannot be understated. If the data is dirty, the resulting advice will be unhelpful, at best, and detrimental to the health of the business, at worst.

When it comes to data, garbage in equals garbage out. A healthy amount of skepticism allows an advisor to keep an eye on the quality of their data at all times.

 

CHATA.AI’s suite of features is built to support data-driven advisory at any stage of adoption, and to do so at scale. If you want to learn more about how CHATA.AI supports financial professionals, read one of our Partner case studies, or check out how to Level-Up Your Advisory A-Game.