But when the rise of the cloud spurred accountants to start leveraging smart software like Xero, this ushered in a new age for accounting firms.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at how new technologies have shifted the role of the accountant and how leading firms are becoming true business advisors to clients.
Experiencing a new way of working, first-hand
With forward-thinking accounting firms now shifting to cloud-based accounting software, it has opened up a whole new world of automation, efficiency and accessibility.
Moving their books to the cloud has meant sales and income data is always up-to-date and this provides a real-time snapshot of a company’s financial position.
Teams have access to the same data from anywhere, on any device, while the cloud software providers ensure the security and privacy of that data by meeting stringent requirements.
Eliminating a lot of the time spent on data entry has enabled accountants to focus on high-value, revenue-driving tasks, such as commercial analysis and making informed decisions for clients. Most importantly, increased efficiency and productivity has helped to lower operating costs and make firms more profitable.
But this has only been the start. As technology across all industries improves and becomes more widespread, accounting firms are now in a valuable position to leverage their experience of using smart tools to help companies take their own digital leap.
“With the cost of the technologies coming down, more companies are investing the capital needed to deploy the tools. As this occurs, accountants will be able to provide value-added services beyond the performance of traditional number-crunching tasks.” - Forbes
How bookkeepers can transform into business advisors:
- Guide clients to use the best technology
For accounting firms that have already leveraged the benefits of cloud-based accounting software, they are using this experience to find relevant technologies for clients and assisting them in getting the most out of these.
An industry-specific piece of software not only helps make life easier for the client by streamlining their business, it shifts their perspective of their accountant to a digital enabler – somebody who they can rely on for expert advice to ensure they stay ahead.
That was the case for Toronto-based accountancy firm, FutureBalance.
“As a Xero specialist, part of our mission is to find cloud technology and applications that are relevant for our clients in different industries and assist them in implementing it,” says Ryan Zysman, co-founder and partner.
“This helps to deliver efficiencies on both sides and means we can run clients’ bookkeeping at an affordable rate.”
When a property client came to Future Balance looking for software to run its portfolio of properties, they recommended Re-Leased because it was a leading property management system and also seamlessly integrated with Xero.
This move helped the client eliminate their paper-based processes and boosted their data integrity by housing all their data in a single source of truth. The client is also benefiting from the smart automation of workflows and real-time reports in Re-Leased, while the financial data automatically syncs with Xero for Future Balance to work on.
This integrated property and finance solution isn’t just making life easier for Future Balance as an accounting firm, it’s also helping them win more business with companies in the property sector.
- Add value to clients by better understanding them
Setting your clients up with a connected cloud of integrated apps that ensure financial data is up-to-date across all systems is now an essential step to take. It’s also key for accounting firms to be able to plug into a client’s tech stack as this gives firms a thorough oversight of their clients’ data. This brings both businesses closer together as you work more collaboratively and consistently.
Seeing under the hood of a company, in real-time, puts you in a position to gain visibility into what has happened in the past, what’s happening right now, and what can be accurately forecast for the future. This means conversations with clients are based on using data-driven insights to provide proactive, rather than reactive, business advice.
“As a firm, we do not simply focus on our own job creation. If that was our goal, we would have encouraged the use of messy spreadsheets because that system relies heavily on our input and expertise. Instead, our goal is to make life better for the client; if we do that, it’s job done for us. We become a trusted partner who they are likely to call on for their next project.” - Jeremy Hague, co-founder and director, Cloud Accountancy.
The next era for accounting firms
The role of the accountant is quickly shifting and so too are the expectations of your clients. With so much business data now available instantly, thanks to cloud accounting software and integrations with client systems, this is driving a more forward-looking mentality. No longer are you there to just keep a record of a client’s finances, your expertise should now centre around setting them up for the future. The firms that embrace this next era of the profession will be the ones that thrive.