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Technology: Adapt or face losing work

3rd Dec 2013
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Practitioners need to keep abreast of the latest technology to keep up with clients who may be more savvy, according to a recent tech adoption debate.

Ric Payne, chief executive of Principa, accountant Paul Scholes and charity owner Richard Pendlebury were discussing the increasing role of technology in accountant’s lives, during a recent video conversation with Exact.

Scholes is a sole practitioner working in London, and is a keen adopter of cloud technology. One of the biggest innovations for accountants in recent years is the ability to share and collaborate with clients, but the risk is that clients now know far more than the accountant about certain technologies.

“They know far more about certain things than I do. As a result, there are a large number of businesses who won’t even think of employing an accountant, it’s only when they get into trouble do they consider hiring one.

“Because of this we need to connect with them and the only way to do that is through technology. As compliance work drops away, we need to find ways to hook the client and make them aware we’re here,” he said.

Payne added that collaboration was indeed one of the key areas in which accountants can use technology to connect with clients, but the less clients you have, the more you can connect with them.

“If you control the general ledger, you control the general relationship,” he said, warning clients that business advisers have exactly the same knowledge of technology now as they do.

“The way in which social media is being used for marketing purposes, the trend toward mobile devices and real time access to information - not just financials - is upping the ante significantly,” he said.

On social media, Payne added that practitioners who don’t embrace the medium and bring younger people in to teach them how to use it will be missing out on an opportunity that leads to a vast network of both support and potential cleints.

As a client, Pendlebury said his priority was getting real-time, quick answers to issues his charity is facing, and not an ever expanding email chain.

“Time is short when you’re trying to run something. Clients want a human being, quick decisions and good response times,” he said.

Watch the rest of the debate on our Exact video hub page and leave your comments to let us know how you think technology is impacting the way you work with clients. 


Replies (2)

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By PK Group
03rd Dec 2013 16:53

Technology for accountancy firms

The influence of technology is becoming huge in the financial services industry. With clients potentially being all over the world, a modern day accountancy firm should have a strong understanding of how to use this technology to their advantage.

The need for a human being interaction is still essential for clients, but things such as Skype and Google Hangouts are making it easier to connect to clients wherever they are.

Great read!

PK Group

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By User deleted
04th Dec 2013 12:40

Some interesting comments ...

But also some flawed ideas - for instance comments such as

'.. With IT innovation is where the money is made - after the first 10 minutes, few months everything else is catch up ..'

Firstly, how many innovators have gone bust, only to have their ideas taken up by others? Simply look at ASP/SaaS/Cloud - quantify the number innovators still in business (a handful) & how many have gone to the wall? A lot of those who didn't make it, put success/failure down to fund raising & not necessarily bad ideas.

For instance, if you could strike a chord with a financier or were part of a rehab program then doors opened. Of course there are the exceptions but simply look at the present crop of Cloud accounting systems - how many existed in 2000-2003 & then look at their funding background

But realistically, innovators are just that - ideas men. Their skills are not as fund raisers or some such, and generally without assistance they are way out of their depth and wide open to falling flat

The first idea may be revolutionary (disruptive) but invariably very raw and it takes collaboration to build on it and achieve the end result by evolution

Also never overlook that fact that technology is an enabler and not a means to an end in itself.

How it is used, or more importantly not used is the key.

Which some of the early adopters of Facebook (students on campus) found out when they were promised that Facebook (early 2000) would only ever be used as a student medium - after uploading very indiscrete things Facebook then changed the rules & went public - and their previous posts were then available to prospective employers

So trust also plays an important part & being lied to by providers does not engender this!

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