Accounting firms of all sizes are being affected by rapidly changing technological progress and globalisation. What can you do to ensure you don’t get left behind and that your practice is future proof?
Gone are the days when small business owners hired the local accountant and simply left them to ‘get on with it’. Globalisation and rapid technological progress have also seen many jobs and work offshored and outsourced. Which is why future-proofing your accounting firm is as important as dealing with the here and now.
Now, more than ever, accountants need to keep up with their clients – or risk becoming obsolete. Here are five things you can do:
- Embrace cloud-based accounting solutions
According to Intuit research, 88 per cent of small businesses in the UK expect their accountants to embrace cloud-based solutions, yet only 37 per cent of accountants do so. This is a huge missed opportunity.
Small businesses, especially start ups, have been particularly transformed by cloud software. With one click, you can upload files and data, quickly discover and rectify errors, access your business’s figures in real time and use this information to make strategic decisions and changes straight away – all while you’re on the go. Using the same cloud systems as your clients will therefore you work together more effectively.
- Train yourself and your staff in ‘soft skills’
Skills like building relationships, managing people, customer service and sales are vital in today’s market. There are so many accounting firms for businesses to choose from, and many will have similar (if not the same) levels of technical knowledge and experience.
‘Soft skills’ – or people skills – are your opportunity to stand out from the competition. Customers want to feel valued and confident that they will get the service they need from you: prompt replies, willingness to go the extra mile and the ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and simple way should help build trust and set you apart.
- Develop deeper client relationships
The days of the ‘number cruncher’ are numbered. Instead, many small business owners want to work with someone who cares about the success of their business as much as they do. With cloud accounting solutions that connect you and your client at all times, you are better able to respond to their needs as you will be more involved in their business – for example, being able to check their figures in real time means you can flag up any potential problems to the client, discuss or suggest a change in strategy, or cross-sell further services that would benefit them as the need arises. The need to future proof your business becomes essential.
- Offer advisory services that clients need
The use of real-time data from a cloud solution provides a real opportunity to provide your client more useful services and business advice. Of the small businesses surveyed for the report ‘The Changing Role of Accountancy’, 82 per cent expected their accountants to be more proactive in developing value-added services. Nearly all said they were prepared to pay for additional services they demand – including business consulting advice and project financing and reporting.
- Behave like a business
Efficiencies from cloud accounting can enable your firm to adopt a more transparent pricing structure, where you and your client know upfront what work will be done and how much it will cost, rather than billing reactively.
The future proof is in the cloud(s)
The key to making your accounting business future proof is to be proactive, rather than reactive – and boldly adopting new technologies like cloud accounting solutions is an essential part of that to survive and thrive in this fast-changing world.
To find out how cloud accounting can help you future-proof your firm, sign up QuickBooks Online Accountant for free.