With cloud technology taking over in daily life and the workplace, the future for accountants is changing. To remain in business and stay profitable, accountants need to become increasingly accessible to their clients and substantially more productive. Let’s look at the ways technology enables us to do so.
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One thing technology is bringing to every industry and to everyone across the world is convenience. When it comes to choosing an accountant, Xero’s recent State of Accounts survey found that a major factor for SMBs is responsiveness. This is about being able to easily reach an accountant and to get a quick response, benefits that technology has made possible by giving real-time access to figures and a variety of ways to keep in contact, for example using software, email or instant messaging. Xero’s report also reveals that 16 percent of small business owners expect to interact with their accountant purely through accounting software in the future, with instant messaging (10 percent) and video calls (10 percent) considered the next most likely means of communication. In fact, only 42 percent thought they would interact face-to-face at all in the future. This anytime, anywhere connectivity highlights the need for companies to change their traditional working models and end the one-size-fits-all approach. Being able to adapt can not only increase availability to clients, but also improve both client satisfaction and productivity.
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But improved connectivity is not just for the benefit of clients, but for accountants themselves too. As cloud technology takes over, the traditional 9–5 workday is shifting. More professionals are opting to work remotely. 40 percent of accountants say that technology has made their working day more flexible and 75% believe they would be more successful if they could choose the hours they worked. Nine in ten accountants believe this increased flexibility to be beneficial to those with commitments outside of work, such as parents.
Increasing value – the future of the accountant
However, life as an accountant is not just about advising on the numbers – there’s much more to their skill set. A growing number of small business owners feel that automation of certain tasks will enable their accountant to add more value to their business, with one in four having asked their accountant for broader business advice at some point. This will certainly extend hours and types of services requested. Although 59 percent said they did not think they would need an accountant at all in 10 years time, the skills small business owners consider to be most important in a business advisor are trust, attention to detail and technical competence – all key qualities of an accountant.
So there isn’t, and will never be, any dispute around the value of an accountant for a business. However every modern business, regardless of size or age, needs a modern accountant who knows how to future-proof a business. So ensure you understand your client’s needs, your own needs and the tools and technology that can help you continue to provide excellent accountancy services.