The Accounting Industry
The market for accounting and tax services are in quandary primarily because customers are gearing towards bookkeeping services which are less costly and that big accountancy firms are pushing other players out of the high-priced market. However, all is not lost. Accountants must see it as a challenge. With the current financial difficulties everyone is facing, accountants can offer more value-for-money services to small and medium-sized enterprises. Instead of the yearly client discussions, accountants must be prepared to offer interactive services in order to meet the requirements of these SMES who are bracing themselves for another difficult year.
Cloud computing is slowly transforming the accounting industry by offering to streamline accounting processes in order to cut costs and adopt services which add value in a subscription-based scheme. Such services can include tax planning, profitability advices, cash flow forecasts, and real-time approach to scanned invoices. With software-as-a-service, accountants will be able to deliver services in more innovative way.
Accountants must be able to view cloud computing as a big opportunity for them to step up and take the lead in empowering a new phase of business insight in order to understand that they can change the SME’s performance. However, this shift is not an easy one because it will also entail a change in culture and attitude. Accountants do not just adopt cloud computing but must also incorporate a new approach in working which will minimize administrative processes which are repetitive and which will eventually free up gifted individuals so that they can share their knowledge and expertise with the market.
An important part of the cloud computing solution is the integration of document scanning. Invoices can be instantly scanned and posted automatically to the accounting system after which the accountant can check and confirm the entry. Through scanning invoices, cost of processing goes down because the invoices can be scanned in bulk or by every client on their end. Through cloud computing, accounting firms can now compete with those offering low cost bookkeeping services.
By encouraging each client to scan invoices daily, an accountant can have timely information which can be used to provide additional value added services. This powerful capability to offer real time intuitiveness is a welcome service to SMEs. Clients can just log into the accounting firm’s portal to find out how their businesses are performing. They can also asses the currency fluctuation’s impact or track cash flow which is helpful in providing confidence in clients’ business decisions. Accountants can offer new services like business analysis or cash flow forecasting in order to offer an in-depth financial expertise which SMEs will find essential in maintaining or growing their businesses.
Cloud computing is a tool every accountant can take advantage as a leveraging tool so that he/she can retain his/her clients without necessarily slashing his/her fees. With the new technology, an accountant can provide timely reports and advices to SMEs so that they can still be in business. He/she can provide real time perspective to the client’s profitability by undertaking cost analysis and delivering advices on business expansion or transformation. These types of services are highly demanded by customers who need to make difficult decisions. The practice of reviewing the business’s performance has become irrelevant and outdated with cloud computing.
Financial software offered in cloud computing technology provides an opportunity to change and enhance accountant-client relationship. Taking advantage of software-as-a-service, an accounting firm need not invest heavily on server infrastructure or internal IT personnel because most of these cloud computing services are on subscriptions. Monthly subscriptions are also very low to encourage accountants to take advantage of the innovative business model. By reducing IT costs and making information available 24/7 online, the accounting firm’s cash flow is greatly improved.
Although accountants are still generating income despite the current financial situation, the changing market and the clients’ pressure push them to think of innovative ways to maintain their clients because there are bookkeepers who offer their services low and there are also huge accounting firms who are also moving to capture the mid market. Accountants must wake up to realize that the current movements in the accountancy arena have serious implications and that there is a need to make the big leap to change to the new cost base and business model.
By Glenn Blake
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