Unsure how best to use technology in your practice? Still relying on paper and spreadsheets for most of your processes?
Adopting technology can help you become more efficient, while giving you the best chance to support your clients.
In this article, we highlight a series of tips that will help you become a tech-savvy accountant.
Here’s what we cover:
Clients increasingly expect tech-savvy experiences
During product demos in practices across the country, we hear a common refrain: “That’s great, but my clients won’t use it.”
Whether we’re talking about client portals, digital signatures or electronic delivery of tax returns and financial statements, a few professionals continue to use client aversion to technology as an excuse to stay firmly rooted in the status quo.
When we hear “My clients won’t use that” or that there is client pushback, we ask more questions.
“How does the practice roll out new technology to clients?”
“What are clients’ specific concerns?”
Usually, we find out that it’s not an issue of clients refusing to try new technology.
The problem is the practice hasn’t done a good job of selling the internal team on why the change will be better for the practice and its clients.
The truth is there is a rising comfort level with technology among most people – your clients included.
In 2017, HSBC Bank surveyed more than 12,000 people in 11 countries to explore how people feel about industries and society being transformed by technology.
According to the results, 76% of respondents said they felt comfortable using new technology and 80% said they believe technology makes their life easier.
If your clients own mobile phones, make purchases on mobile devices and use a mobile app for banking, are they really not tech-savvy enough to use cloud-accounting software and record expenses with an accounting app?
Or is the real issue that it’s easier for practices to stick with the way things have always been done because change is difficult?
Clients increasingly expect tech-savvy experiences.
Are you up to the task?
If not, here are five tips to help you get there.
1. Invest the time
In the short-term, it’s certainly quicker to do things the way you’ve always done them.
Whether that involves manually entering a trial balance or collecting a box of receipts from your client at tax return time.
But short-term thinking is short-sighted.
Time invested in learning new technologies will more than make up for itself in the mid and long-term.
2. Prioritise the client experience
Remember, using technology to make our lives easier isn’t just about our own ease. It’s about providing ease of use for your clients.
When you’re actively bringing solutions to your clients that make their lives and work more manageable, it sends a strong message to clients that your practice is not becoming stale or oblivious to the technological innovations happening all around.
You’re adopting new tech and processes to make the client experience easier and more enjoyable.
3. Ask for help
If you personally struggle with adoption of new technologies, it’s OK to admit where you have challenges.
Reach out to the people on your team who are tech savvy and ask them to help you along the path.
FYI: that doesn’t necessarily mean turning to the ‘younger’ people on your team. Age is not the sole determinant of comfort with emerging tech.
4. Partner with solution providers
Think of your vendors as partners in this transition rather than simply a party to a transaction.
If you partner with them, they’ll help you with rollout, onboarding and change management in your practice and in your client base.
5. Start small
Still convinced your clients won’t use new technologies? Give it a try.
Start small with a few more forgiving and easier clients.
Get a few short-term wins under your belt will help you gain confidence and provide real evidence of the validity of the change vision.
So there you have it. Using technology in your practice doesn’t have to be intimidating.
If you’re really new to using it, there are advisers you can turn to and courses you can take to get you up to speed.
And if you need to convince your clients about moving to tech, remember to highlight some of the benefits (better record keeping, improved efficiency, time saved…) that will mean life is easier for them.
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