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Opinion: Cloud heralds new era of financial control

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1st Jul 2010
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Twinfield’s Mark Davies argues that Software as a Service (SaaS) will transform the way accountancy practices work with their clients.

Corporate confidence may be returning; but the climate has changed for accountancy practitioners. With growing pressure on fees and fast diminishing concepts of customer loyalty, accountants need to be far more closely involved with clients.

Getting close
A customer is no longer for life. SMEs survived the recession by imposing far greater financial controls, staying on top of their cash flow positions and taking more proactive approaches to day to day financial management. As these organisations start to rebuild they are for greater visibility over financial performance and cash flow. 

In this market accountants can no longer simply rely on fees from the annual audit. To guide their progress in difficult times, small companies need at a minimum a monthly briefing with the accountant based on a snap-shot of the current financial position. Even better is real time access to online information that gives MDs immediate visibility of key financial performance indicators such as cash flow anytime, anywhere.

Online model
Software as a service (SaaS) can support an online accounting model that delivers these benefits. A web-based accounting platform lets clients update data from any location, and lets the adviser analyse the accounts and report back to the client in real time. Bank statements and can be automatically downloaded and consolidated into financial reports that can be accessed by MDs whenever they want.

Improved information sharing also enables firms to minimise the mundane tasks and increase productivity, paving the way for more competitive rates for standard book-keeping and accounts processing services. But, more importantly, this model allows firms to release experienced personnel from valueless jobs to use their experience and knowledge to deliver real value to clients as key business advisors.

Building loyalty
Sharing a single online accounting software solution also provides a platform for other services, which can range from a monthly update, to the provision of advice in areas such as taxation and cash flow, to a proactive approach that leverages real time access to client data to monitor performance and provide early warning of potential financial problems. These services increase the value of the services you provide and boost customer loyalty.

Critically, this co-operative approach creates a strong relationship between accountants and their clients, whilst providing SMEs with access to the financial expertise required to minimise the risk associated with business growth.

About the author

Mark Davies is the UK country manager for Twinfield, a pioneer of online accounting that now supports more than 40,000 customers in 22 countries.

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By appleli
08th Jul 2010 05:50

Microsoft Online Services

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