Sound judgement, good with numbers and knows their way around excel sheets – these are the top answers I got when I asked my friends and colleagues what they thought made a good financial advisor.

However, financial advisers go way beyond excel sheets and add real value to the business. They are often critical to ensuring the growth and profitability that businesses are after. How does a financial adviser ensure success? Some of the more popular responsibilities are –

1. Making sense of the numbers – Financial reporting

2. Ensuring profitability – Getting people to act or react based on their financial numbers so they can control costs and budgets. It goes without saying, that’s the most critical point to running a healthy business.

However, modern financial advisors not only help you understand your financial figures but also look beyond the excel sheets and accounting numbers.

1. They get to know your business inside out. This is more important for small companies as they have their unique ways of operating. A financial advisor gets an end-to-end view of the business (it helps if the advisor has experience of running the business themselves!) and understands the key drivers, sales model and end objective of the business owner.

2. The role of a modern financial advisor has evolved to be a mentor as financial decision making is often complicated, and business users appreciate advice and mentoring. This is where the financial advisor takes the role of a mentor by explaining the implications of various actions based on a business’s financial situation. The advisor can steer you towards planning growth, going public or even preparing to sell your business. Often, knowing you are in control of your numbers gives you the mental peace to carry on with your plans confidently.

3. They can help you focus on your goals and encourage you to take actions that will yield results. A financial advisor can look beyond just accounting numbers and analyse if the company performance is in line with business goals. They can help establish key performance indicators that help you measure progress and ensure you are prioritising actions that are moving you towards your ultimate financial goals.

4. Provide projections and forecasts so you can plan for growth. If your business is growing, it is the right time to get control of your numbers and have a financial advisor suggest if there is any exposure to risks, identify opportunities for cost savings and investments.

5. Able to see your life’s big picture. Although financial advisors draw a clear line between managing personal finances and business entities, for most small businesses, their own life is not entirely separate from their company. Often, business goals are tied to personal goals and a financial advisor who understands the overlap can provide better advice on where to invest, help with the growth or even exit strategy.

If you are a business owner unsure of your numbers, don’t walk through unknown financial paths without help.