The future of accounting will have digital at its core
A lot has changed over the last few months. Accounting and bookkeeping firms have stepped up to guide their clients through challenges - helping them to survive and now plan for the road to recovery.
What this situation has shown is a resilient industry ready to adapt in order to thrive. We’ve seen many firms making changes through digitisation - from embracing remote working and new digital client engagement tools, to adopting the cloud.
Businesses that have been traditional at the core are now discovering that digital processes offer far greater scalability and resilience, and as a result of Covid-19 I believe we’ll see a rapid shift.
New ways of working
Accountants have had to close their offices during the lockdown. What many may have seen as a negative for operations and a short-term change, could now become a more permanent ‘new norm’ for some. Traditional expectations like having a permanent office and being in it 9-5 will become less important post-Covid.
Businesses using digital tools, like video conferencing and working from the cloud, have seen how this can actually boost collaboration and speed-up processes, whilst decreasing overheads. It can also help with attracting talent from further afield - something we know many firms struggle with.
Scottish based cloud firm, Empowered by Cloud, is a good example of this shift. They’ve decided they won’t go back to their previous set-up. It’s given them the freedom to work with clients in real-time, rather than waiting for face-to-face meetings to connect, and they’ve seen their customer base grow as a result.
This pandemic has demonstrated how essential accountants are to our economic recovery. However, to step into the role of a true business advisor they need time which means streamlining processes. Practices will struggle to thrive in the long-term if they continue using traditional resource-intensive methods like excel sheet data entry and piles of paper receipts.
At Xero, we’re continuing to simplify manual processes such as tax filing to support accountants and bookkeepers. We launched Xero Tax this year, a cloud-based accounts production and tax filing solution, designed to save time, reduce errors and cut costs. This means practices can spend less time on painful tasks like tax, and focus on being key advisors.
While there are a lot of unknowns in this pandemic, accountants have been focusing on an area that’s key to small business survival - cashflow management.
Practices are leaning on technology and tools that help to give clients a robust view of their position. It’s these kinds of fast insights businesses need to help make important decisions about their future.
For example, Glasgow firm Russell & Russell have been encouraging clients to try out cash flow visualisation app Float to give them a real-time view of their past, current, and future cash flow. And Raedan has been using Fluidly to help clients accurately forecast, along with specific webinars on these tools.
Accountants continue to have a crucial role to play in the future of our small business economy. This is just the beginning of the industry’s transformation, and this period is accelerating a new approach to running practices.