“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the mantra of many accountants across the UK, with sticking to ‘how it’s always been done’ the easy option. And this is especially true when it comes to technology.
While for some accountancy firms, the reluctance to invest in technology may simply be a resistance to change, for others, tech – but particularly platform tech provided and managed by a third-party – is seen as more than just an expensive and disruptive change, it is seen as a potential threat to their client relationships.
A reluctance to relinquish control
And that is understandable. If, as an accountant, you have always been the only professional advisor with access to your client’s financial details and plans, handing over that access can seem like relinquishing control.
Unfortunately, while this is quite a common view, it is also a huge misconception about what platform technology designed for accountants is aiming to do. Far from trying to ‘steal’ those client relationships away from the accountant, they are there to help enhance them.
By adopting platform technology that can help store and manage client information, you not only make management of the account easier, more efficient and more secure, but you can also use it to create business opportunities. And of course, by automating non-skilled work, you have more time to focus on the skilled work – building up meaningful relationships and offering them expert advice and knowledge that a computer could never have.
Platform technology is here to help, not hinder
Not only can platform technology help to digitise certain processes, but in many cases, can also help generate new business. For example, Zenplans is a digital estate planning tool for accountants to help their clients securely organise, maintain, store, and selectively share all their most important personal and financial information. But it can also help create new leads – the step-by-step guidance creates touchpoints, and identifies any planning gaps, offering an engaging way for accountants to spark conversations with clients and grow their estate planning services. It also encourages clients to think carefully about things like estate planning and succession plans, and about sharing their wishes with loved ones. This naturally helps engagement with the clients’ family, offering an organic opportunity to build and maintain new relationships with the next generation.
Clients want to pay for advice, not processes that could be automated
There have been huge advances in cloud platform technology in the last few years – accelerated of course by the pandemic – and as the Government’s regulatory drive towards digitisation becomes more prevalent, accountants will need to embrace technological change if they want to avoid getting left behind.
With better access to data and technology than ever before, accountants now have the freedom to focus on what they are good at and let technology do the rest. Their clients know that there is technology available to replace outdated, manual systems, and therefore expect better and more efficient services when it comes to managing, storing and accessing their data. But this doesn’t mean they don’t still want that expert advice. If anything, it highlights its importance and value when they know they are paying for the skills, knowledge and expertise of their accountant, and not for time wasted on processes that could be automated.
Stephen Moses, founder and CEO of Zenplans