The accounting landscape is changing. DIY programs available to both businesses and individuals are going to change the client/firm relationship. Let’s take a look at what we think some of the most likely changes are going to be and how accounting outsourcing can not only help you keep up, but can in fact help your firm grow during this new era.
Firms will become full-service financial stations
It will likely no longer suffice for firms to try to work on a compliance-work-only basis. Individuals and small to medium-sized businesses now have access to far too much DIY software that can crunch the numbers for them. In fact, governments are now providing easy-to-use online systems for tax reporting.
Instead, firms will have to take the compliance work one step beyond. They’ll have to become the place where those basic tax forms become just the starting point from which they drill down and find not only tax breaks, but also advice on how their clients can improve their businesses.
Accounting outsourcing makes this transition much easier by shifting all of the basic number-crunching to your overseas team members, freeing up the time for your in-house senior accountants to not come up with the numbers, but to take a good hard look at what the numbers mean and what can be done to improve your clients’ business ventures.
Cloud-computing isn’t the future, it’s the present
Clients now expect instant access to their info. They’ll want it during business meetings, and they’ll want it just to satisfy their curiosity while they’re taking a taxi to the airport. Not including the cloud in your firm’s plans is going to make you seem archaic.
Happily, accounting outsourcing benefits greatly from your firm having a cloud-based information exchange system. While it’s not the only IT solution out there for getting files to your overseas team, it’s certainly the easiest and most cost-efficient, and it allows you to keep your clients up to date without having to put in any more work than what you were going to do already.
Firms can become business-advice heroes
Accounting outsourcing provides more sets of trained and experienced eyes looking at any one file. This means that you’re going to have more people set to pick up on any red flags in a client’s numbers. With this information you can swoop in and steer them clear of financial situations that might spell disaster, and you can also point out opportunities that will deliver significant growth for their business.
Billing for value
Time-based billing made sense when you were doing compliance work. Client A’s file was well-organised with no nasty surprises so it only took you X hours to work through it. But Client B’s file was a shoe box full of unlisted receipts and there was some confusion over a trip to Bali and they tried to write off two lunches they seem to have had at the same time… so Client B’s file took longer, requiring a higher time-based bill.
But we’re now shifting out of the compliance era. Time-based billing is no longer going to be applicable to the new accounting paradigm. What you offer will not be based on how long it took, instead it will be based on the value you bring to your clients.
Here’s another thing to remember – you’re not just billing for the immediate work you do for your client, you’re billing for the years of expertise you bring to the situation. Accounting outsourcing is your friend here because it gives you the time to offer more of these value-based services to your clients, enabling a growing number of new revenue streams for your firm.
That expertise becomes even more important when you realise that with this cloud-based world all a client has to do to jump ship to another firm is get a new password. When your clients ask why they should stay with you you’re going to need to be able to rattle off a list of benefits and why your list holds more value than that of your competitors.
Hiring new talent
If you determined to cling to the traditional way of doing things here’s something else to consider – the next generation of star talent isn’t going to want to work with you. When you tell them that you don’t have cloud-based accounting systems in your firm they’re going to relegate you to the accounting museum and go in search for a firm that is more “with it.”
Your future hires aren’t going to see the cloud as the next big thing, they’re going to see it as the norm.
Accounting outsourcing will be the norm
Accounting outsourcing is another thing that the next wave of accountants will see as being the new tradition. They’ll see it as a tool to be used to allow in-house accountants to have the time to focus more on their clients.
Long story short, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for firms to rely on the compliance-only model. And the longer you wait to switch over to a cloud-based, accounting outsourcing system, the harder it’s going to be for you to A) hire new in-house rock-stars from the next generation, and B) explain what value your firm brings to the table.