Survey: 82% of top 100 accounting firms tie new tech to client retention, firm growth

The largest U.S. accounting firms believe they are nearly 100 percent focused on client needs and expectations, and perceived by their clients as technologically savvy, with the adoption of paperless and cloud-based technologies, according to a recent survey.

Managing partners, partners, senior executives, and senior staff from Accounting Today’s Top 100 Firms for 2010 participated in the survey. Following are the survey's preliminary findings:
  • With an overwhelming 82 percent of respondents believing new technologies are changing client expectations – and nearly 90 percent stating they are perceived by clients as technologically advanced – almost 75 percent of respondents believe their firms need to provide multiple document scanners to their staff and adopt new SaaS solutions.
  • Firms should position themselves with clients as a true business partner by discussing commitment and focus; 94 percent of respondents believe their firms are highly focused on client needs and expectations.
  • Through the adoption of workflow, scanning, and SaaS solutions, firms can demonstrate they have the experience and knowledge to make any client matter more efficient and productive.
 
These and other preliminary findings are the result of a new study commissioned by Fujitsu and SpeedTax, and conducted by the Bay Street Group, a New York-based custom research and strategic consulting firm for the professional tax, accounting, and finance community.
 
“The systems and processes implemented by the Top 100 firms are a good litmus test that all other firms, from sole practitioners to large, local organizations, should follow,” said Jim Bourke, CPA.CITP, partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC. “It’s clear that firms must provide as many resources as possible to save their clients time and money. These include easy-to-use portals and other applications to enable the exchange of documents and information.”
 
Bourke recently authored Three Key Tech Strategies of Successful 21st Century Accounting Firms, a white paper describing how competitive, growth-oriented firms are leveraging technologies like document management and SaaS to better serve clients and improve internal operations.
 
“We’re thrilled that executive management in the nation’s largest firms recognize the significance of leveraging document management, SaaS and related workflow technologies, but we’re even more pleased that the firms realize they need to talk about making a commitment to solve client problems through technology implementation and experience,” said Scott Francis, vice president of marketing at Fujitsu.
 
“This shows that productivity has been elevated to a more strategic level rather than focusing solely on task-based processes. For example, firms that consistently educate clients about the business advantages of document-management technologies have a good opportunity to increase client retention,” Francis said.
 
Fujitsu, a provider of document imaging scanners and services, and SpeedTax, a provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), fully automated sales tax management solutions, formed an alliance earlier this year to help CPAs and accountants understand the relationship between document management, SaaS, and sales tax/compliance.
 
“SpeedTax has spent the last three years educating the profession on SaaS-based sales tax services, and along with Fujitsu, how document management integrates to improve workflow; these preliminary findings appear to validate our activities,” said SpeedTax CEO Anton Donde. “We look forward to continuing to work on education and thought leadership initiatives that further contribute to firm growth via client satisfaction and retention.”
 

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