It’s often a love-hate relationship between accountants and their clients. Love because your accountant helps to keep your finances in order. Hate because you can imagine the look of disapproval you will get as you spend an inordinate sum of money on a new laptop that does everything except make your coffee.
The more ways accountants can add value to their clients’ businesses, the more the shift will be towards love rather than hate.
What the research says
This year Sage interviewed 3,000 accountants worldwide (US, UK, Canada, Spain, France and Australia) for its annual Practice of Now research report. It was found that 90% of respondents believe that there has been a cultural shift in accountancy as it enters the next decade. This shift is driving change in attitudes toward emerging technologies, as well as in business services and hiring practices.
Technology provides the tools to automate processes and to streamline communication, which directly impacts the overall client experience. Job descriptions are expanding to include technological literacy, along with relationship building and business advisory.
The report also revealed the following:
- 85% said the profession in their country should pick up the pace of technology adoption to remain internationally competitive.
- Two of the main benefits cited for technology adoption were increases in productivity (56%) and time savings (27%).
- 55% plan to make use of artificial intelligence (AI) within the next three years.
- 53% have already adopted cloud-based practice management.
ICAEW is a professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports over 181,500 chartered accountants and students worldwide. According to research they conducted with 500 members in 2018, there is an appetite among accountants to use new technology, with 46% seeing digitisation as an opportunity.
It is clear from the research that the accounting industry is ripe for change and technology is more than ready to enable this change. The bottom line is that you need to ACT. The question is, where do you begin?
A for Automation
If there is a task that needs to be done repetitively, is based on data and does not need human decision-making intervention, then it has the potential to be automated. An article on the For Accountants website identifies three processes that could be automated in an accounting practice: marketing, sales and compliance. It also provides three tips to ensure the implementation of automation is a success: a detailed plan of action, identifying key success factors and making sure your team is on board.
C for Cloud
Using software that is cloud-based means that systems can be accessed from anywhere at any time. This is particularly useful when you have multiple branches, staff working offsite or in different time zones, or travel frequently. Storing your data online also ensures that it is protected from being lost if something were to happen at your physical premises. Companies offering cloud-based solutions make cybersecurity a major priority and implement advanced security measures to protect your data from being stolen or hacked.
T for Training
Adopting new technologies will require training for you and your staff. Much of the learning can take place online, but bringing in a trainer to help staff onsite may make the transition easier, especially if there are people not comfortable with technology.
ICAEW has worked with Deloitte to develop Finance in a Digital World, a suite of online learning modules to build awareness and build an understanding of digital technologies and their impact on finance. The training covers topics such as digital transformation, robotic process automation (RPA), AI and blockchain.
Using technology to manage cash flow
Accountants probably utter the words “cash flow” in their sleep, given the level of importance it holds in keeping a business sustainable over time. This is just as important for accounting practices as it is for the clients that they serve. FlexiFund It is a fund collection software that provides your customers with flexible payment options while securing the full payment for your professional services. The software automates your entire funding and payment process, allowing you to control more transactions in less time and with less effort. This will benefit your cash flow and enable you to provide a solution to benefit your clients’ cash flow as well. Your margins will be positively impacted as you maximise both time and money.
A post on the Forbes website reports that as administrative tasks become increasingly automated, forward-thinking accountants can build value through offering services such as cash-flow consulting and business advisory.
Get in touch to find out more about FlexiFund It Fee Funding Software. A cloud-based, easy-to-use solution developed to serve accountants and accounting practices.