The developments in technology and automation within the accounting industry have led to the emergence of a new type of professional: the cloud accounting specialist. Also called “cloud champion” or “advisory manager” – the role is so new the industry hasn’t yet standardised its name -, this professional has the skills and knowledge to help businesses take advantage of cloud-based accounting software and tools.
One of the main benefits of cloud accounting is the ability to access financial data, process it and submit it from anywhere at any time. This has greatly streamlined the accounting process and allows professionals to work more efficiently and reduce the risk of errors.
Another advantage is the ability to analyse business finances and provide valuable insights and advice for clients, sometimes in real-time. By using advanced reporting and analytics features, they can help clients make informed decisions about their business planning while still saving time. Internally, this helps practice managers oversee workloads and even define pricing strategies.
But to do all of this, they first need to know which software fits the firm’s accounting automation strategy.
What Does a Cloud Accounting Specialist Do?
Technology evolves fast, and it can be difficult for practices to know when better alternatives that can help them save time and money are available. Cloud accounting specialists play a vital role in helping practices navigate the world of automation. They can assess a firm’s current workflow and identify areas where technology can be implemented to improve efficiency and accuracy.
If the practice already uses certain apps, they can review what’s working, what can be improved and what needs to be replaced. They also serve as experts on specific apps and tools, providing training and support to colleagues and new hires. This can help ensure that the entire team is using the tools effectively and making the most of their capabilities.
Finally, by staying up-to-date on the latest developments in accounting automation, this cloud champion also helps firms stay ahead of the curve. With new technologies and cloud-based solutions, firms can open up the capacity to take on more clients whilst continuing to provide high-quality services to their existing ones.
“The role is not restricted to one person, depending on how much you want to scale, but you need someone who has the drive, the passion and the excitement, otherwise you won’t move forward.” – Paul Lodder, VP of Accounting & Product Strategy at Dext
How Can a Cloud Champion Help My Clients?
Externally, the cloud accounting specialist can advise clients by identifying the specific needs of each business and recommending solutions that will best meet those needs. For example, if a client doesn’t know how to use a general ledger properly, they can explain why that’s important and give them tips to make it easier to submit their taxes. Or if they’re still collecting receipts on a shoebox (or often losing them), they can recommend an app to easily extract and safely store data from invoices and expenses.
In addition to recommending technology solutions, cloud champions can also assist with the implementation and integration of these tools. They can help during the client onboarding process, set up the software (or arrange this directly with the provider), train employees on how to use it, and provide ongoing support as needed. It’s important to mention that this new tech advisory service can be billable, opening up a new revenue opportunity for practices.
Overall, the cloud accounting specialist helps businesses take full advantage of the technology available to easily manage their finances, save time, stay on top of their cash flow and better plan the next move.
“The way I position the cloud accounting specialist role is no different from a tax role. For example, you can have a VAT specialist who doesn’t have a portfolio himself but provides value to everybody. So in high-level conversations you can bring the cloud accounting specialist to advise clients on tech. It’s another service you can bring on, it adds huge value and it can be charged.” – Paul Lodder, VP of Accounting & Product Strategy at Dext
The rise of cloud accounting has created a new career opportunity for accounting professionals who are interested in technology and automation – and the demand for them keeps increasing. Whether it’s a professional focused solely on this or an accountant (sometimes more than one!) who splits their time between their regular client portfolio and tech research, the cloud champion helps firms improve internal processes and best serve clients.
As automation continues to grow within the industry, the role of the cloud accounting specialist will become even more critical to ensure firms can stay up-to-date with new technologies and adapt to new regulations.
If you want to know what a cloud accounting specialist needs to succeed, how they can help your practice generate revenue or even how to hire one, we have a free guide coming soon that answers all your questions. Stay tuned!