Why developing foresight is essential to become a connected accountant
How foresight powers sophisticated advisory services and unlocks new revenue streams for digitally mature accountants.
Automation is changing everything about accounting.
For accountants, automation has eliminated many burdensome administrative tasks to make compliance and other common reporting work fast, easy and accurate. For clients, it's given them the means to manage their own bookkeeping without accountancy expertise.
The cost savings and efficiency gains are so attractive, that the global accountancy software market is growing at 8.6% per annum. But there's a big catch here. Research has shown that 74% of accountants currently generate most of their revenue from compliance and bookkeeping. Competition is intensifying, prices are falling, and clients see less value in this work.
But clients have never needed their accountants more. Faced with global instability, regulatory changes and market complexity, clients are looking to their accountants for answers.
Accounting is transforming – undergoing a fundamental shift in focus towards advisory services. In fact, our research found that 76% of accountants expect to generate the bulk of their revenue from advisory within the next five years. Forward-thinking accountants have already made this leap and are turning an investment in automation and technology to their advantage.
They have moved beyond driving efficiency gains to using their technology to develop sophisticated data-driven advisory services where they proactively keep ahead of client demands, increase client loyalty and open up new revenue sources.
Here's how to unlock this opportunity for yourself.
See into the future with predictive intelligence
Just as data analytics can open up a view of the past, it can also open up a view of the future.
When all real-time and historical financial data is consolidated and standardised into a single secure hub, and key workflows and reporting processes automated, accountants have a full view of where a client's business has been and where it's at now. In our technology maturity curve we call this achieving Fullsight and Hindsight.
With all client data in one place, analytics tools can be used to compare performance over time and against other similar clients across a firm’s portfolio to benchmark best practice, spot trends, uncover insights and identify opportunities to sell in additional advisory services. We call this having Insight.
Foresight takes this one critical step further – from seeing trends in the past to using data to predict the future or to evaluate the impact on a client of different scenarios. Armed with a plan, accountants can use technology to monitor any key indicators and set up automatic alerts as an early warning system for when threats emerge or opportunities arise that need immediate action. This is how accountants can make the move from reactive reporter to proactive business advisor.
With automated alerts, accountants, and their clients, will never miss a potential issue or opportunity but most importantly they will know to act in good time.
For example, you may have a client with an ambitious growth strategy, where keeping on top of cash flow is critical. When they are about to reach a new growth milestone, an alert will trigger your team to notify your client of the funding sources for which they now qualify and offer help with tax liabilities.
Predictive intelligence is the ability to use real-time and historical data to constantly monitor financial performance so that you will be the first to see when action is needed.
Take immediate action with real-time activation
Real-time data is the foundation of Foresight. Whenever a client makes any addition or amendment to their financial data, it should feed into the accounting platform, no matter what software platforms they are using. Because the data feed is live, you can set up real-time alerts to prompt an immediate response.
What's more, because you can see across your entire client portfolio, you can monitor what is important for each and every client. Alerts can be personalised to watch for their particular threats, challenges and opportunities. Every client will know that you always have their back.
You can also react swiftly as a team because all communication and collaboration takes place in real-time on Silverfin’s centralised platform. Any changes, instructions and progress updates are securely accessible from the one single source of truth. No critical team member is ever left out of the loop.
Real-time activation vastly improves the client experience, helping you build trust along with client loyalty.
Grow your business with advisory services
Foresight is where all digital capabilities come together for maximum impact – historical and real-time data, collaboration, automated reporting, data analytics and predictive intelligence – to develop high-value advisory services.
Having completed their digital transformation, these 'connected accountants' now have the time and tools they need to analyse data and identify advisory opportunities and new revenue streams. With a 360 degree view of their clients – past, present and future, and across the portfolio – they have a far deeper understanding of their clients' needs, the key drivers of their businesses and their path to success.
Now accountants can develop a far closer and more valuable working relationship with their clients, acting more as a business partner who can shape strategic direction and future opportunities, all based on reliable real-time financial data.
Our customer Arjan Schipperus, Managing Partner at RS Finance, described the benefits brilliantly. He said: "In a traditional accountant client relationship – the client drives somewhere, arrives successfully, or gets lost, and only then does the accountant show up with the map to show where they are. With us, we are there with you in the car. We will tell you where you are at that precise moment, what route you've taken to get there, and we will show you what choices you have on the road ahead to help you take the best route to your destination."
Once you have achieved Foresight, you can painlessly deliver sophisticated advisory services to all clients. Expertise is no longer trapped in the head of the individual accountant. Instead, it is centralised, standardised and data-driven so it can be easily monetised as future-facing advisory.
Foresight is the final stage in achieving connected accounting. It means that you have reached the peak of digital maturity for accountants and are best placed to lead in the new rules of accounting as an advisory-led firm. No matter where you currently are on your digital transformation as an accounting firm, Silverfin can plot a course for success.