By Paul Nagy IRIS software Group Product Manager.
As the accounting industry continues to evolve to meet new client needs, accounting firms must stay ahead of the curve if they hope to deliver tangible client value and avoid being left behind by their competitors. Clients today don’t want accountants who can simply file their taxes and ensure compliance. Recent research shows 68% of clients would choose strategic advice from their CPA firm if price were not an issue. Customers need a trusted business partner who can analyze and decipher their data to help them make business decisions. As accountants strive to provide these types of value-added services, they face increased pressure to integrate new technologies into their systems and offerings.
The challenge: new customer expectations
Accountants are on the front lines of maintaining the integrity of corporate financial reporting while serving as a trusted advisor to help businesses succeed and prosper. But they still need to ensure profitability per customer while maintaining customer satisfaction. At the same time, customers are increasingly demanding higher levels of service. They want more than just analytics; they are looking for proactive data-driven insights that will help them drive growth. Clients understand that the information provided by their accountant is critical to the success of the business.
Clients understand that their accountants have a unique perspective based on their work with a wide range of companies in different vertical markets. Therefore, clients expect their accountants to use their diverse expertise and identify which strategies can work for their business and which ones cannot. These decisions are typically time-sensitive, so businesses look to their accountants for a holistic perspective to help them increase efficiency and growth. Clients today often don’t have time to read lengthy reports to uncover one or two pieces of information. Instead, they want their accountants to analyze the data, clearly present key findings, and explain directly what it means for their business.
This can leave accountants stuck between a rock and a hard place if they use legacy methods and technologies. They either have to do a high volume of manual labor to keep up with growing demand or risk leaving their customers unsatisfied.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. By leveraging new automated solutions, accountants can drive significant efficiencies within their firm to ensure they are focused on increasing the value-added advisory services their clients need. Accountants are often tasked with manual data entry and reporting, mundane and time-consuming tasks. Recent data shows 73% of companies report 10-50% time savings from automating previously manual tasks. Leveraging automated technology can significantly reduce manual data entry tasks and allow accountants to use the time saved to provide value-added services to clients.
Businesses don’t need to take an all-or-nothing approach to reap the benefits of automated solutions. Today’s technology solutions can often be used seamlessly to increase the efficiency of their current systems. For example, being able to perform very complex tax calculations using cloud computing allows today’s accountants to provide answers much faster than before, while requiring fewer in-house IT resources. By harnessing the power of cloud computing, automation can help accountants scale beyond their legacy systems to deliver the consulting services their clients demand.
Productivity and remote work in the foreground
As the accounting industry responds to changing customer demands, the industry itself is transforming. The rise of permanent remote and hybrid working models means that many companies need newer and more flexible options to allow their employees to work easily. According to a recent Survey of CFOs, 78% of accountants agreed that moving to a remote/hybrid work environment has boosted employee productivity. While it looks like remote and hybrid working is here to stay, the question is: how will your business respond?
How your business navigates this new working model is critical, and if not managed well, it could create a serious competitive disadvantage. With growing demand for accountants, now is the time for companies to invest in the right technology and employee training to ensure they can meet growing customer demand, give their employees the right tools to succeed and stay ahead of their competitors. Adopting cloud-based technology solutions can empower your employees by providing the automation needed to improve productivity, automate manual processes, and focus on value-added consulting services.
End the old, make way for the new
Historically, accountants have spent a lot of time performing many manual, inefficient, and error-prone tasks such as data entry. And many have resisted adopting new technologies because they’re comfortable with the current desktop systems they’ve used throughout their careers. But if they could automate traditionally manual tasks, they could improve data accuracy, free themselves to focus on value-added services, help improve analytics, and win and retain more customers.
Now is the time for accounting firms to embrace automation and other advanced technologies that have proven successful in other industries. Satisfied customers lead to business growth and automation is one of the keys businesses can use to unlock their full potential. Now is the time to leverage automated technology to future-proof your business.