Cloud Accounting and the Survival of the Accounting Firm
As accountants to a variety of businesses throughout Canada, we have noticed a dramatic shift in the way our clients collaborate with us.
In the past, we were typical accountants, merely providing compliance-based work in addition to some future tax-planning services. The name of the game was to file on time and to minimize taxes by providing strategies unique to that business.
In just a few years, our “Accountant” role has turned into a “Trusted Advisor” role. The rapid advancement of various forms of communication has opened the “office door” of availability to the point that it is now always open.
As trusted advisors, we have clients communicating with us through e-mail, skype, telephone, fax, text messages, instant messaging and in person. We are no longer compliance officers but rather trusted advisors who are invited to participate in a client’s business. With so much information out there, clients are always researching, speaking to others, and then asking how they can use what they learnt to improve their business. And most of the time, those questions will be directed at us.
And as of late, there is no better strategy to utilize in your business than to move to a cloud accounting platform. It is the number one question we receive and we almost always answer it in the same way…Yes!
Cloud accounting platforms provide accounting firms and clients one more communication channel by which to engage regularly and become involved. Many accountants may not be open to this new relationship because they would rather take a “see you once a year” approach. Although many accounting firms will choose not to innovate in the short run, it will become a necessity for their survival in the long run. Relying on brand recognition alone without adopting the latest technological advancements can only be sustained for so long before business owners learn about these new innovative firms and form a shift in their expectations of their accounting firm. Similar to how Blackberry chose to ignore Apple’s innovations for too long, a real risk lays ahead for small and medium sized accounting firms that continue to run their firms in an old fashioned manner not suited for the 21st century.
The benefits of a cloud accounting platform are many, but some of the best are:
Ø Access from multiple locations
Ø No need to worry about maintenance of hardware systems
Ø No need to purchase hardware or accounting software
Ø Easily scalable as clients grow
Ø Requires no updates or version upgrades and provides a lower up-front cost
Ø Advanced integrated add-ons providing unique solutions to a variety of businesses
These benefits allow the accountant and client to reset their professional relationship and begin a more dynamic partnership focused not only on the compliance aspect of the business but rather on the strategy side of things. This is where the real value comes in and where a competitive advantage is created.
According to a research conducted by CCH (an industry leader in authoritative tax, accounting, legal, business and audit compliance tools), accountants who do not make the move to the cloud could be putting their client relationships, and their own business, at risk.
Based on the survey, around two thirds of the small and medium enterprises said they would consider replacing some of the services their accountant currently performs with cloud-based software. Half said they would consider looking for a new accountant if their existing accountant did not embrace a cloud solution.
At our firm, we have made the leap – and our client’s couldn’t be happier – ask them (they are available by skype, phone, fax, text…..)