In the last few decades, the accounting industry has undergone certain levels of modernisation to keep up with digital ways of working. Like in other traditional industries, however, many small and medium-sized accounting firms in particular have remained cautious when it comes to adopting new technology.
Digitisation has presented accounting firms with a unique set of challenges of managing increasingly tech-savvy clients with greater independence and expectations than ever before.
Since the start of the pandemic, the rate of technological adoption has been forced to accelerate while new economic uncertainties have emerged, piling additional pressure on accountants and their clients.
Now, more than ever, is the time for accounting firms to alter the old ways of working and embrace technological change to better suit their clients’ needs, and here are the reasons why.
Failure to embrace technology will drop you to the back of the pack – and it will happen sooner than you might expect
As businesses across the world become increasingly tech-savvy, the demand for digital services that suits their needs has skyrocketed. At the same time, the amount of accounting firms that have integrated some form of cloud-based solution has also increased dramatically.
By failing to provide digital tools to your clients, your accounting firm is at risk of being diluted by the much larger and digitally-savvy companies that will have a service offering that is far more appealing to prospective customers. On one hand, you risk losing a significant share of your existing customers that may get fatigued by the outdated practices that they are increasingly becoming capable of themselves. On the other, you risk being left behind when it comes to acquiring new customers, who are increasingly seeing the value of technology in helping them run their business as efficiently as possible.
The SMEs are already onboard
SMEs are depending more and more on new technologies, and the government has taken notice. The HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative requires the majority of business owners to maintain digital records and submit VAT returns using compatible software. Clients will increasingly be seeking out accountants that are offering this type of software, and similar initiatives will likely be applied to other tax regulations in the future, so it’s certainly worth building relationships with software providers sooner rather than later.
Moreover, since the outbreak of the pandemic, technology has been playing an integral role in supporting individuals and businesses alike through lockdown. We have witnessed a mass migration towards a host of digital solutions; for example, 3D printers have enabled masks, ventilators and medical apparatus to be quickly manufactured, while video conferencing and remote-working tools have kept us connected, shaping our WFH routines.
There is no better time for accounting firms to start implementing cloud-based solutions and to develop new ways of communicating with clients and colleagues whilst working from home. It’s extremely important, particularly given the current situation, that communication is done digitally and that records are delivered digitally.
Bookkeeping software will increase efficiency and cut costs to your firm – so why delay?
Change can be an uncomfortable process for many companies, and when it comes to implementing new software, it’s not hard to understand why so many are reluctant. It’s my belief, however, that the businesses that take this leap will likely be the first to reap the rewards. In general, collaborating with bookkeeping software and other cloud-based solutions provides many benefits, not just to the accounting firms, but also to their clients. What’s more, most bookkeeping software can be obtained at a low cost, and it can be a much cheaper alternative than running and maintaining applications on your own server.
Crucially, the implementation of a bookkeeping software solution improves the efficiency of the accountant’s collaboration with his client by removing the need for sequential operations, such as bank statements and invoices, which can instead be uploaded straight into the software. By streamlining the process of record keeping, accountants can save valuable time and money, and take on more clients safely in the knowledge that the software will categorise client figures and records accurately.
If we’re looking at the game of marginal gains, capabilities of advanced software also mean that more intricate financial analyses can be drawn, by enabling accountants to provide real-time insights to their clients and make informed projections about a business’ financial activity.
As the pandemic threatens to slow down economic prosperity, the reliance of SMEs on their accountants will continue to increase exponentially. The ability to embrace digital transformation and collaborate with software providers will prove instrumental in the survival of accounting firms in the COVID-19 era and beyond.
By Viktor Stensson, CEO and co-founder of AI-driven accounting software Bokio