Shayne Dueck, MPAcc, CPA, CA, is a Partner and Business Advisor with MNP’s Private Enterprise team in Saskatoon. Shayne works with businesses of all sizes, delivering customized advice and solutions to help them achieve their goals.
Tell Me About MNP:
Dueck: MNP as an accounting firm with more than 60 years of history. We are proud to have offices across Canada and pride ourselves on creating meaningful, long-lasting relationships with our clients.,
Although we have a long history, we are effectively two and a half to three years into our cloud journey.
Over recent years, we’ve had a lot of clients asking us to do their bookkeeping again. But we were turning them down because bookkeeping wasn’t a core part of our practice and would have required a lot of manual work.
As we started to see technology change in the market, our team considered whether we can add bookkeeping where clients asked us to do it. Could we do it in a way that makes it more efficient and we charge them the same amount?
However, we had a change in perspective. Instead of focusing solely on the technology and workload, we thought about how technology could improve our relationships with our clients and provide more value. Offering bookkeeping services would allows us to understand their business on a deeper level and provide more than just financial statements. We could help them adjust their strategies and drive the results they’re looking for.
What was the process like building the cloud service part of your business?
Dueck: We started by putting together a team of about 20 to 25 people across our firm to determine the specifics of the service offering, asking what it would look like, and how they fit together in terms of our overall practice.
We had some big questions to ask. How do we start figuring out our marketing and staffing? What is required for training and managing the learning and development? What are all the different facets of the service line? We began to build our service out with people who would have had expertise in these various areas while staying focused on delivering a unique service to clients.
To determine our path forward, we road-tested some of the technology by piloting cloud products with existing clients. This allowed us to learn before we began to scale and test our theories in real-world scenarios.
What were some of the biggest lessons you learned from the first few years
Dueck: As we started to scale, we found that there was a lot of success at starting with small things that look very similar to one another. We focused on working with professional corporations because their businesses operate in similar ways.
We were optimistic about the production level and quality we could get from a small team and we’ve been blown away by the results. A small team can do the work for many clients; we can be more efficient, we can essentially flatline our workload for the year so that we’re only doing year-end for our clients. This makes us able to get their work done on time, gives us a chance to do some tax planning, and reduces stress both for our own team members and our clients.
How did your firm begin to grow its services?
Dueck: We have strong relationships with our clients, and the people that hold relationships with a client have worked hard to build trust. This allows us to get a lot more traction. Usually, once we found people within the regions that started to do well or partners and managers that were effectively early adopters for us, they believed in what we were trying to do and in turn, referred clients to our team.
The key to success is those early adopters. When we found two or three people in a region that understood our service line and believed in the long-term vision, we achieved results. There may have been some bumps and learnings along the way, but people understood that the end product was a positive change for their clients and a solid result for the firm.
What’s The Future of Canadian Accountancy
Dueck: In Canada, I believe the role of the accountant and the work they do will change. I don’t believe accountants are going anywhere.
Right now, accountants exist to develop and verify financial records. I see that starting to get driven down in price as things get more automated. If you do it well, maybe you can keep your price the same if you’re good at it. But in the long term, accounts will effectively need to start engaging their clients differently and evolve to become more of the day-to-day advisor.
Accountants have a built-in advantage to becoming an advisor. We’re starting to see things on a day-to-day basis and have earned the trust of their clients. We’re starting to provide our clients with more insights and more things they don’t necessarily know about.
So when I look at it, the more we can automate, the more we can help. Generally, when we look at any small business, it’s somebody who’s very skilled at doing something and people willing to pay them for it. But as they achieve success, the business owner gets caught in the administrative tasks because they want to understand how their business is performing. So instead, most business owners tell us they want to focus on what they are good at.
I see the role of accountants to make the business management side easier to engage, and we will partner with our clients on moving their business forward. If we can do that and play that pivotal role with our clients, we essentially create a win-win situation. They get tremendous value for what they’re paying, and accountants will be more satisfied with what we’re doing with our jobs because we’re just seeing more successful people. As a whole, our economy will be better off, which just means that we’re better for our communities in the long run.