We interviewed accountants in Australia, Canada, South Africa, the USA, and the UK to hear about the cutting edge accounting practices they follow and find out which technology supports them.
All of the accountants interviewed are decision-makers in their firm, with many years of experience in practice, and additional experience in things like cloud adoption or other things that have led to them getting industry awards for innovation and achievements.
Here are some highlights from those interviews:
Cloud-based accounting is changing the game
All the accountants we spoke to were incredibly positive about accounting tech and identified several benefits. The main benefit is that accounting technology can save accountants time doing data entry and other tedious processes through artificial intelligence and automation.
In some regions, the accountants we spoke to are also combating a lack of technology adoption within their SMB client base, as well as reluctance and hesitation among other accountants and bookkeepers.
Cloud accounting has also had concrete benefits throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, enabling practitioners to transition quickly and easily to remote working. Some have said they will continue to work remotely and flexibly where possible, eliminating trips to clients far away and working towards a better work-life balance for team members.
Many accountants mentioned that the increased efficiency cloud technology offers has revolutionised the way they work, improving their quality of life by dramatically shortening the work week and giving them their weekends back.
Taking on more of the right clients
Great relationships with clients are fundamental to success, and there’s a big emphasis on good customer service. Some accountants said this was the way they planned to differentiate themselves from their competitors as more and more firms adopt cloud technology and begin offering a wider range of services.
Part of developing good relationships with clients involves, for some accountants, severing relationships with clients who are not interested in embracing technology, and selectively onboarding new clients.
Those who were less interested in offering new services emphasised that they were focusing on doing what they already do better, including having more conversations with clients.
Some accountants identified a need to end relationships with clients who are not open to adopting accounting technology, as it’s too difficult to work with clients who aren’t using the same tools and processes as the practice is. Accountants are not just looking for clients, they’re looking for the right clients.
Standing out from the competition
Less time spent on manual inputs and extraction of client documents allowed respondents to place greater focus into diversifying their business offering and providing additional services such as advisory/coaching and project management.
As a result of this perceived mass consolidation within the industry making the overall output similar across all accountancy firms, the challenge of standing out against competitors was huge. Differentiating themselves from other firms was sometimes perceived to be less important than their ability to deliver on consistency, good communication with clients and value added propositions to improve upon retention.
Aside from offering a broader range of services, respondents typically operated in a very similar way. They looked to consistently deliver quality work, speak with their clients more frequently and engage clients with technology throughout the onboarding process. This would all be wrapped into a fixed monthly fee for a bespoke service which fits all of the client’s requirements – not just a single fee for all.
Some granular variations involved a more active role in marketing as they look to utilise referrals, networking, community engagement, and outreach to potential clients. They also offer professional services like HR and training services that empower clients to perform their own bookkeeping in-house.
More from the Future Accounting interviews
If you’re interested in seeing the full Future Accounting reports, choose from your desired region below: