The Digital Accountant – focusing on the client

4 min read
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The cloud. Arguably one of the biggest technological innovations in our lifetime.

Coupled with the use of tablets and smart phones, the cloud has created powerful and highly scalable platforms that have revolutionized how services can be delivered and consumed. Facebook, Netflix, Uber, Air BnB… no industry has escaped the disruption caused by cloud-based technology.

What about cloud accounting?

Cloud computing has had a profound impact on the accounting industry too. It’s completely shifted the focus of what we do.

Online accounting software like QuickBooks now offers far more than just bookkeeping solutions ever could. Cloud-based solutions are more like small business platforms, providing the client with an all-in-one solution. Hundreds of apps connect to the main bookkeeping solution, focusing on workflows such as data entry, project management, reports, and much more.

How is this changing clients’ behaviour?

The digital accountant (yes, that’s you) is now seeing increasing numbers of clients doing their own bookkeeping, as these cloud-based solutions are so easy to use. Once they’re inputting the basic accounting information, your clients can access data and information showing them where their business is at all at the press of a button.

So what does that mean for accountants?

What’s really good about this is that you’re no longer weighed down by the compliance jobs such as year-end accounts and tax returns. Now you’ve got a lot more time to focus on developing more advanced services for your clients, such as providing insight and advice.

Instead, you’re now the trusted advisor. Clients will perceive your new role as having greater value to them and – play your cards right – this will reflect positively in your profits. All of which is great news.

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So how do you make that switch to digital accountant?

It’s all about meeting the changing expectations of your clients.

Firstly, you’re now expected to be a ‘Technologist’ as well. Now the cloud is here, you need to know which app to connect to your cloud accounting software to make the data entry flow seamlessly for your client, or a time roster app that allows your client to manage their employees across multiple locations across the UK. Having this knowledge provides your firm with a competitive edge, and it also helps your clients manage their own bookkeeping easily.

Your clients will most likely expect you to be able to answer basic questions about the new apps they’re using too. You may well be asked to give initial training on how best to use these apps within their cloud accounting solution. Many apps offer their own training and demos, so the ‘Technologist’ in you typically arranges the app training between their client and the app provider.

It’s all about mindset

Secondly, Jamie Notter, in his book ‘When Millennials take over’, states that becoming customer obsessed is key to the digital accountant role. Central to this is basing your services around four fundamental aspects – Clear, Fluid, Fast and Digital.

He argues that successful companies are not just changing what they’re doing but the way they’re thinking. The digital accountant mindset needs to focus on offering services that are transparent, agile, responsive, and using the relevant technology that focuses on the client.

Cloud accounting software helps with each of these four fundamental aspects. But it’s also the mindset that’s critical. Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • How can you learn from some of the truly disruptive companies of the last 10 years such as Uber and Netflix?

  • Who are your top 3 biggest competitors and what do they do better than you?

  • If you were to explain your services and pricing to a 10 year old, would it make sense?

  • How long does it take to respond to customers – regardless of how they get in touch?

  • How easy is it for clients to access critical information, from anywhere at any time?

  • What are you going to stop doing, start doing and continue to do this year?

  • When was the last time you actually changed anything meaningful, and was it easy?

Once you’re on board, you won’t look back. Engaging with your clients using cloud accounting solutions such as QuickBooks Online will open up a whole new world. And one of greater profits.

Feel you’re better informed about what being – or becoming a digital accountant entails? The QuickBooks blog covers a wide range of business-related topics – it’s all part of our mission to help you develop your accounting business.

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