Trusted Advisor

Trusted advisor relationships generate new revenue streams for your practice, rewarding work for you, and delighted and loyal clients. To create these new relationships, you will need to understand your clients' businesses, build genuine relationships with them, and add real value to their operations. This pathway will enable you to develop all the skills you will need for this new role.

access 365 days' access
cpd hours 21 CPD Hours
price £330+vat €380+vat HK$3300 A$650NZ$760

In an increasingly difficult business landscape, accounting firms – particularly those in the second tier – are coming under substantial financial pressure. Adding value to the client base can differentiate you from your competitors, and this pathway will show you how to do just that.

We’ll look at how to develop a more supportive and interactive relationship with the client – one that is broader, deeper and, crucially, more profitable than regular compliance work.

Enhancing and developing the client relationship can help to improve fee income, encourage client retention, and open a lot of doors for your practice and your career. If done right, you will forge a relationship that is commercially beneficial to both parties.

  • 2021 research from Chartered Accountants Worldwide and Edelman Data and Intelligence shows that 84% of business decision makers believe chartered accountants have the skills and expertise to make business thrive today
  • A 2019 Sage survey showed that business advisory services and outsourced CFO remain a significant growth opportunity. 82% of accounting firms acknowledged that clients now expect a broader range of services and resources
  • According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in Chartered Accountants has risen to 85% since the last survey (2021)
Man at laptop

In this pathway


Supporting your journey to the next stage of your career

Trusted Advisor role

The tools, techniques, and skills you need to provide valuable business insights


Learn where you want, when you want


21 verifiable hours of CPD, an assessment and a Certificate of Achievement

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Learning resources

Immerse yourself in the rich variety of articles, videos, activities, quizzes, discussions, and more, to develop the understanding and skills required to become a trusted advisor.

Expert interviews

Discover how you can become an effective business advisor, from our prestigious team of experts.

Expert interviews screenshot
Action plan screenshot

Action plan

Build up a practical plan of how you will put your new skills into action, and download a convenient summary of all the learning to take away.


Achieving 75% on the multiple choice assessment is required to complete the career progression pathway. The assessment features two questions on each topic that has been covered.

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Secure certification screenshot

Secure certification

Once you've finished the programme, you will receive a unique and secure Certificate of Achievement as evidence of your new understanding and capabilities.

This Career Progression Pathway is divided into four sections corresponding to the key skills you will need to develop to become an effective trusted advisor. Complete all four to unlock the end of pathway assessment and access your Certificate of Achievement.

Learn how to establish a relationship with clients that is broader and deeper than compliance work to support them in activities like raising finance for new ventures, or reviewing business processes to find efficiencies.

  1. The trusted advisor
  2. Professional credibility
  3. Ethical issues
  4. The importance of communication

Building trust and credibility is a vital part of moving any professional relationship forward, and is fundamental in becoming a reliable advisor and a respected voice.

  1. Developing trust
  2. Building relationships
  3. Improving communication
  4. Professional scepticism
  5. Authoritative voice

Clients will turn to for advice if you can demonstrate that you are able to see beyond a traditional accounting perspective, and think in more holistic business management terms.

  1. Understanding clients
  2. Business acumen
  3. Looking to the future
  4. Measuring performance
  5. Data analysis
  6. KPIs
  7. Problem solving

This is all about getting the practice ready to be trusted advisors for the clients and making sure the right skills and the right people are in place.

  1. Relationship management
  2. Strategic thinking
  3. Digitisation
  4. Sustainability

Once you have completed all the elements of the pathway, you can take the assessment to access your Certificate of Achievement.


Lead Consultant

Julia Penney

Julia Penny

Julia Penny is the Immediate Past President of ICAEW. Julia is also a member of ICAEW Council and a past chair of both the ICAEW Technical Advisory and Ethics Advisory Committees, a former member of the Technical Strategy and Financial Reporting Faculty Boards and of the AAT's Council and audit committee.

John Taylor

John Taylor

John is a Chartered Accountant who spent many years advising businesses across the North of England. He specialised in dealing with the particular problems faced by large companies. John later joined Leeds Met University where he specialised in teaching auditing on ACCA professional courses and Forensic Accounting at Masters level. He is now a freelance author and lecturer.

Other contributing faculty

Alan Nelson

Alan Nelson

After studying economics, Alan began his career in accountancy before moving into senior management positions in the publishing industry. After a successful stint as CEO of Thomson Learning, a major international textbook publisher, he founded Nelson Croom, the publisher of which he has run ever since. He was until recently Chair of ICAEW's Practice Assurance Committee and a member of ACCA's SME Committee. Alan is the author of three modules in this pathway, on Professional Scepticism, Alignment and Negotiation.

Anna Faherty

Anna Faherty

Anna Faherty is a writer, editor, researcher and educator who has written extensively for accountingcpd on topics as diverse as ethics and strategy. She is an expert in the communication of complex ideas. Anna has delivered numerous workshops and webinars for ACCA and the AIA and has lectured at City University, Kingston University, Oxford Brookes University and University College London. Anna has provided six modules for this pathway, on Persuasion, Ethics, Strategy, Data Presentation, and two on aspects of Effective Communication.

Ben Rawal

Ben Rawal

Ben is a Director and Lead Consultant with Soft Skills, a business providing leadership development, team dynamics improvement, and emotional intelligence services for accounting and finance professionals. He is a chartered accountant (FCCA) and has an MBA from Warwick Business School. Ben is the author of the section in this pathway on Building Relationships.

David Allen

David Allen

David Allen CBE, MPhil, FCMA, FCIS was employed for many years by the Cadbury Schweppes group, holding directorships of various companies, latterly Cadbury Ltd. During that period he was also president of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), chairman of the Management Accounting stream of the International Federation of Accountants, a visiting professor at Loughborough University Business School and a member of the Review Panel of the Financial Reporting Council. David is the author of the module in this pathway entitled Looking to the Future.

Lisa Weaver

Lisa Weaver

Lisa Weaver is a professionally qualified (ICAEW) lecturer with 20 years' experience of exam-based, and CPD lecturing for accounting and finance professionals. Lisa qualified with Deloitte and her clients ranged from major charities, multi-national organisations and listed companies to football clubs. Since leaving audit practice, Lisa has lectured on financial reporting, audit and governance subjects, developing and delivering CPD courses for qualified accountants working in industry and in practice. Lisa has delivered courses across Europe, the Caribbean, China and South East Asia. Lisa is now a Professor in Accounting at Warwick Business School, delivering on a range of undergraduate and MBA programmes. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK.

Ross Maynard

Ross Maynard

Ross Maynard is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He has worked as a consultant and trainer for over 20 years, specialising in process improvement and lean for finance teams. He has presented at lean conferences in the UK, Australia, Italy and Denmark and has written many articles and blogs on process improvement. Ross is author of the module on Key Performance Indicators in this pathway.

 Samuel Ellis

Samuel Ellis

Samuel Ellis is a chartered accountant with experience working in private accounting firms and a number of high growth businesses. He has spent the past six years working as Head of Finance for InterWorks, a global specialist data consulting practice. Sam was the founding Chair of the ACCA's Global Technology Forum and currently Chair of ACCA's Member Advisory Committee and a member of the ACCA's International Assembly. Sam is the author of the module in this pathway on Data Analysis.