The accounting profession is on the precipice of change and how it manages that change will proportionately impact its future.
Technology like marketing automation, lead generation, firm improvement and development software, and collaborative learning communities continue to up the ante for accountants. Moreover, those who adopt the Uber model will be the ones who provide the flexibility and real-time information required for successful business.
Until now, innovation stalled in accounting. Everything that used to be done on paper was adapted to computers and that’s where it stayed. But the new trends in technology have finally arrived in the world of bookkeeping – and they’re taking the “books” out of the picture for good.
Faster, more available, and smarter are the keywords for today’s successful accountants. This is where the Uber model comes in.
The Uber Model Meets Accounting
Uber’s explosive growth, from black car service to a ride-hailing app for everyone, came with good timing, accurate market forecasts, and the simple act of filling a real need. It provided a new option in a limited and frustrating market. Taxi service is spotty at best, but with an app that lets you hail a ride and track its progress, the power now resides in the palm of your hand.
Accounting is often viewed with the same hopelessness of hailing a cab at midnight on a Friday, but recent advances are changing that. As the accounting world takes lessons from Uber, making the process more transparent, accessible, and operating in real-time, the tools CPAs provide clients become not only invaluable, but fundamental for day-to-day decisions and long-term business success.
Taking Advantage of New Trends
New technology is making it easier for accountants to play a larger role in their clients’ ongoing operations. These three trends are the linchpins of tomorrow’s accounting practice. Those who get on board today will be the ones clients turn to tomorrow.
1. Cloud computing. It may seem obvious or overdone at this point, but many people still think of the cloud as online storage or just a backup plan of sorts. Not anymore. The power of the cloud has increased dramatically over the years, making work quicker and more efficient. It provides a way to allow access to more information for more people at any time of the day or night. Real-time insights into key performance indicators are at your fingertips – and at your client’s fingertips. This helps accountants move from the ancillary role of number-cruncher to a more active role of providing valuable insight that impacts daily operations.
2. Automating marketing solutions. Accountants need to leverage customer data to create more marketing opportunities. With today’s tools, accountants can automatically send newsletters with marketing content – videos, articles, and case studies regarding new ways to grow the bottom line. Taking advantage of innovative ways to use existing client information is a cost-effective way to increase ROI for both accountants and their clients. Automating marketing increases business from existing clients, leads to more referrals, and frees up valuable time.
3. Data analytics. Lastly, a growing trend in the tech world is data analytics, with which you can crunch new and valuable insights from your existing data. The old standbys – income and statements of capital, balance sheets, and the like – will always be important, but with today’s dynamic business environment, more in-depth analysis can give your clients a better, more competitive advantage. Analytics can help identify underlying trends and risks, as well as bring anomalies to the surface faster than traditional inquiries. It provides a wealth of easily actionable information.
Accountants who help clients see what is going on beneath the surface can create a relationship that goes beyond simply being an intermediary between a business, auditors, and the IRS – elevating their workplace role into trusted business advisors.
New Options, New Opportunities
Accounting has never been sexy, but those who take the Uber model to heart, creating a transparent, available, and ultimately useful tool for their clients, can forge a fruitful relationship as a critical business advisor. Much like Uber, they are generating a new, innovative option in a limited and often frustrating market. Smart businesses respond to this new role with open arms.
Your clients need real-time financial insights into every decision as their success depends on it. Accountants who provide this key service will, in short, prove indispensable.
Rob Nixon is CEO and co-founder of Panalitix, a global membership community for practicing accountants as well as the author of 3 books ‘Accounting Practices Don’t Add Up’ - ‘Remaining Relevant’ and his most recent book 'The Perfect Firm'.