Four ways technology enables accountancy practices to lead the way
Seen as a threat by some, advances in technology and automation are actually providing big benefits to accountants and their clients, who are entering a new era in the accounting sector.
According to research commissioned by Sage, 86% of accountants would be happy for technology to eliminate the administrative elements of their jobs. The survey of 700 professionals also revealed that the biggest frustration for accountants was spending time on number crunching (38%), followed by maintaining manual records for clients (32%), having to rely on Excel spreadsheets (25%) and handwritten notes (7%).
Additionally, Sage's research highlights that over two-thirds (68%) of accountants expect their role to change in the future thanks to automation processes and technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Productive accountancy firms are increasingly interested in the use of new technology to enhance productivity and to offer more sophisticated services to their clients.
Here are four of the ways that technology can enable accountancy practices to lead the way to drive profitable business growth according to Steve Deutsch, Chief Executive of Wesleyan Bank.
1. Cloud solutions for happier clients
Cloud-based software solutions and mobile apps are having a positive impact on both accounting professionals and their clients.
With the cloud, employees enjoy more flexible working with remote and quicker access to the data and billing information from any location. As accountants are more productive, clients also benefit from faster response times to queries and requests for more comprehensive financial analysis.
2. Productivity can be measured
There are more ways than ever for accountants to streamline repetitive tasks and measure the effect on productivity.
For instance, cloud-based systems and online document management solutions replace the need to store paper-based documents providing substantial time savings and a clear audit trail to aid compliance purposes.
Additionally, software such as practice management tools can save practices hours of administrative time by tracking the exact amount of time you devote to each client.
3. Making Tax Digital
Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT will come into effect less than one year from now, from April 2019. The Government's mandatory MTD scheme will provide a single online location for all individuals and businesses to manage their tax, leading to the abolishment of the paper tax return in 2020.
The introduction of MTD will mean that accounting firms will have the opportunity to transform their bookkeeping services. The new technology will enable clients to access their accounting records online, from multiple devices, whilst helping to reduce queries and speed-up invoice payments.
4. AI: An opportunity, not a threat
Artificial intelligence is changing the accounting processes. Many accountants view AI with fear of losing their job due to a machine being able to complete standard tasks which previously they were responsible for.
However, AI is likely to offer more opportunities than threats for forward-thinking accountancy firms. By automating repetitive tasks, AI will free-up time for accountants to offer more value-added services. Whereas AI can automate repetitive work, accountants will still be the only ones able to offer professional insight and accurate recommendations to their clients.
How to invest in technology in your firm
So you now know about the power of technology and the advantages it could bring to your firm, but how can you invest in new technology without impacting your cash flow or working capital?
Flexible asset finance solutions, from trusted specialists such as Wesleyan Bank, enable accountants to invest in new IT software and services, by spreading the cost over a period typically from one to five years.
As a Member Reward Partner to the ICAEW, Wesleyan Bank possesses a thorough knowledge of the accounting sector and provides an extensive range of short, medium and long-term financial solutions that can be tailored to your unique requirements.