How accountants can leverage technology to improve client relationships

Updated: October 19, 2021 at 12:57 am
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    Australia’s accounting services industry is forecast to generate $20.9 billion in revenue in 2020-21, increasing to $23.3 billion in 2025-26, according to the latest Accounting Services report published by IBISWorld. As business confidence returns and expenditure increases in response to the waning threat of extended lockdowns, demand for advisory and accounting services will inevitably increase.

    Compounding this demand is the rise of technology driven solutions for advisors and accountants. According to IBISWorld’s report “technology adoption will likely improve efficiency and expand value-added services, supporting growth in profit margins.” Through this increase in efficiency, the integration of targeted technology solutions with an accounting business’ own systems and processes can allow a firm to spend more time dealing directly with their clients and likely improve the quality of these interactions. Here’s how:

    Doing more with less

    Many of the day-to-day activities of an accountant can be seen as repetitive and time-consuming. Automating these processes where possible will immediately create a more efficient practice. Co-founder of FuseWorks, Melissa Voss, has found just that. While Melissa acknowledges that the initial integration of tech solutions can be tedious and require attention, the long-term benefits are stark.

    “it’s not about starting from scratch, because legacy systems are expensive and still hold lots of value,” Voss states. “It’s just about looking at ways you can work better with what you’ve got and what other parts you can add to that technology stack.” By having technology carry out as many tasks as possible, Voss argues that firms can keep their people available for the most ‘human’ parts of the job.

    With Swoop’s platform compiling the most suitable financing solutions across loans, equity and grants for each business, advisors are saved the time and effort of having to know the ins and outs of each provider themselves. This allows accountants and advisors to spend more time directly working with their clients on finding the right solution.

    Finding the right fit

    The most effective technology solutions are moulded to the unique circumstances of each individual firm. Companies such as FuseWorks carry out a discovery process to find out a firm’s pain points and frustrations, then consider how technology might be able to help. Automating processes benefits every layer in the firm, from accountants right up to managers and directors.

    “It saves time and there is more consistency in terms of output and a reduction in errors.” Voss says. With more confidence that the chance for human error is low, automated processes give directors greater ability to sign off on deals and projects.

    Key success factors

    IBISWorld’s has hundreds of reports on different industry success factors, identifying 250 Key Success Factors for industries. Of those most relevant to the accounting services industry, the most important success factors were identified as the establishment of brand names and maintenance of excellent customer relationships.

    “Industry firms that maintain good customer relations are more likely to retain clients and secure a steady income” the report states.

    In addition, membership of an industry organisation, providing development programs for personnel and having a diverse range of clients rounds out the top five most important success factors in the accounting services industry.

    The report further suggests that due to market saturation in the traditional accounting services industry, technology adoption is becoming a necessity.

    “Firms have increased their range of services to include analytics products, which gain new insights into their clients’ businesses and enable firms to provide value-added services” the researcher says. Data analytics and cloud-based accounting are among the services being added and are proving to have larger profit margins than traditional tax and audit processing.

    The end game

    Technology adoption shouldn’t be seen as a threat to the traditional accounting firm. If done appropriately, technology adoption is good news for everyone. By using value-added services such as Swoop’s lender platform, the firm expands their product offering to clients and increases their own internal efficiencies. In doing so, technology adoption thus allows accountants to focus more on providing genuine consulting services for their clients.

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