Insights and steps to building a successful digital firm

17th Sep 2020
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Many Accountants have started the digital transformation but now questioning 'What next?'.

My new team and I spent a few days in London at the start of the month with our partners and other attendees at Europe’s biggest accountancy industry show - Accountex.

As always it provided me with the opportunity to hear what issues are impacting firms, to see how technology is helping them address these and open up a range of new opportunities. Under one roof the whole tech industry serving accountants was on show.

So as I left the ExCel centre I reflected on what I had heard. There were some very clear themes this year. Some we’ve been hearing for a number of years now with a growing sense of urgency, and others are appearing for the first time or increasing in their importance to attendees.

On our stand we welcomed two of our customers and our interviews with them echoed what was on the mind of the people I met. So here’s a quick summary of what I heard and a few quotes from Jim Brown, Partner at Blick Rothenberg and Luke Taylor, Partner at Smailes Goldie. We’ve recorded our full discussion with them and you can find them here if you are interested in hearing more: Accountex Highlights

We need to progress quickly from digitising bookkeeping to automating accounting workflows to improve efficiency but critically, to free up time for advisory services.

Jim: “We’re growing quickly and are using tech to enable our services and this means our team can use their time in different ways allowing us to be even more advisory as a firm than we have been in the past.”

Luke: “Technology is an enabler that makes the creation of a final set of statutory accounts much smoother, easier and efficient which frees up our staff to work with clients more proactively.”

Clients expect compliance services to be easier and this is driving an increasing demand for value-added advisory services

Jim: “Our business is changing a lot, and all the time, and this is driven by client demand. There’s a lot of pressure on delivering a high level of client service.”

Luke: “When we’re working with clients more proactively it creates opportunities that you didn’t even know were there in your existing clients.”

A talent shortage, and change in skills profile, threatens growth over time for those who don’t respond proactively with training and recruitment

Jim: “Recruiting, training and developing the right people is the biggest single challenge we think we face and we’re putting a huge focus on that.”

The simplicity, and functionality, of today’s cloud-based services are putting an end to old legacy desktop systems and home-grown Excel macros that have dominated accounting software. Silverfin are here to help you make the transition to the cloud.

Access to real-time client data is core to the delivery of value-added services.

Building a successful Digital Firm needs to start with considering how you manage and use data. It is not about how you report, manage the creation of statutory accounts or communicate with clients. Get the data right and the rest will follow. Focus just on productivity tools and you’re missing a significant part of the mid to long-term advantage technology will bring your firm. Centralising your structured client data is also key to the effective use of business analytics and even emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence.