3 big challenges for teams who run virtual advisory meetings

Regular face-to-face advisory meetings with clients are a thing of the past for many accounting practices. Whether your firm has joined the work from home revolution or not, it’s likely at least some of your team’s meetings with clients are now conducted over video, in or out of the office. 

In fact, out of the companies we speak to regularly, we estimate that typically at 3 out 4 advisory, business coaching and VFD (Virtual Finance Director) meetings now take place online. Whilst the benefits of this approach are clear — efficient use of time and zero travel costs — there are challenges too.

In this article we’re going to unpack the biggest concerns today for teams who provide virtual business advisory services, and how we can address each of them.

Challenge 1: Team members lack confidence to run first-class advisory meetings

So your team seriously knows their stuff. They spot amazing hidden opportunities for clients and they know the tech inside out. But they struggle to communicate this effectively to clients.

Depending upon experience level and background, accountants at your firm might not have had a lot of time in front of clients to develop their presentation skills.

This is not a problem that’s just confined to virtual meetings, but it is exacerbated by the video format as relationships are increasingly carved out on screen. Client meetings can be daunting enough as they are, without having to contend with dodgy internet connections and errant cats.

The biggest struggle that we’ve got is that at university and in professional qualifications, we teach how to do accounts. We don’t teach how to talk to clients. We don’t teach what to do when a client is really struggling. We don’t teach what to do when a client is successful. All we do is teach the accounting element. We don’t teach the human side!

Stephen Paul, Valued Accountants

Solution: Coach your team to host confident meetings by establishing a clear process

Whilst ‘winging it’ might just work for very experienced (and lucky) accountants, it won’t fly for more junior team members. Believe it or not, great advisory meetings need a process

Establishing a practice wide process for delivering great meetings ensures consistency of service and gives less confident team members a fool-proof playbook to follow.

There are lots of different ways to implement a meeting process across your team. It could be as simple as sharing a document for team members to follow in every meeting, or you could use a software platform that establishes a process for you.

What does a good meeting process look like?

We like to break business advisory meetings into 3 distinct phases, all geared towards making progress:

Prepare (pre meeting)

Team members should have a clear idea of what they are going to speak about, and this should be reflected in an agenda that is shared with a client ahead of time. Clients should also be given the opportunity to add anything that they would like to talk about. And, they should receive any documents that are going to be discussed several days in advance.

Meet (during meeting)

A form of record keeping should take place during a meeting. Some firms find it easy to record meetings (via Loom), others prefer to assign a ‘scribe’ to take notes and set actions. Either way, you should define a process for all team members to follow.

Act (after meeting)

Good advisory meetings should surface actions that need to be completed by both team members and clients. These should be shared with all parties in a timely fashion via email, together with a summary of everything that was discussed. 

Your meeting process should include a means to track action progress — via a practice management system or meeting platform. And, there should also be a set procedure for setting a follow-up meeting to check-in on progress.

Challenge 2: You struggle to monitor how well your team’s advisory meetings are going

The surest signs of failing client relationships amongst your team are often lagging indicators; they show up too late. You might only find out after an angry email from a client threatening to leave your firm.

You need to be able to detect little problems with clients before they become big ones.

Meeting health score

Solution: Use ‘meeting health’ as a leading indicator of client happiness

You’re not likely to have the time (or inclination) for every team member to debrief you on every single meeting held with a client. But there are some simple things you can do to get a feel for how well these meetings are going.

1. Reinforce — and track — meeting processes

Tracking whether or not your team completes necessary pre, during and post meeting activities can be a strong indicator of client satisfaction. Whether or not there was an agenda and/or notes were taken, strongly correlates with how effective a meeting was. 

You can ask your team to fill out a simple process checklist each time they hold an advisory meeting. Did they share an agenda several days in advance? Did they send a summary email detailing relevant actions? You can keep a record of these checklists in software such as Pixie, Karbon, Monday or Google Sheets or you can use a dedicated client meeting platform such as Connect4.

2. Ask for client feedback

It’s extremely valuable to periodically check-in with clients via a simple meeting satisfaction survey. This could be completely anonymous in order to elicit the most honest reports. Many of the companies we have spoken with over the past year utilise the likes of Google Forms or a Net Promoter Score platform to capture client regular feedback.

Challenge 3: Virtual advisory meetings don’t ‘feel’ as professional as in-person meetings

Many accounting practice owners worry that virtual advisory sessions just don’t ‘feel’ as valuable as meeting in-person in a fancy office.

The fact that virtual advisory meetings have become more ubiquitous however opens up opportunities for smaller firms to compete with larger established ones, like-for-like. Fundamentally, you and your team should be judged on the quality of advice provided alone. 


Solution: Treat your virtual meeting room like you would your office take care of the small details)

There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure your team look as professional as possible during virtual client meetings:

1. Invest in quality hardware

Cheap webcams and mics will struggle on any meeting platform. Make sure your team has access to a decent camera and set of headphones.

2. Brand your virtual meeting room

Platforms such as Connect4 give you the ability to apply your firm’s logo and colour scheme to your client meeting platform. This further reinforces your identity (and in our opinion just looks better than a generic video conferencing platform).

3. Utilise technology that enhances the meeting experience

Many of the firms we’ve spoken with use a few clever plugins to make their virtual meetings more professional. Here’s a couple of popular ones:

  • Mmmhmm allows you to set video backgrounds and share presentations on camera.
  • Krisp uses AI to remove unwanted background noises and echos.


We’ve spoken with hundreds of accounting practice owners over the past year whilst developing the Connect4 platform, and the challenges above have come up time and time again. 

It’s not easy to manage a growing advisory team but with the right meeting processes — and tools — you’ll be able to overcome the most pressing challenges.

What do you and your team struggle with the most during virtual advisory meetings? We’d love to know! Give us a shout on LinkedIn or drop us an email.

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Rory Macrae

Rory is Connect4’s Head of Design. He leads the design of the app as well as all things related to the Connect4 brand.

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