How to move from accountant to business partner

We’ve seen a huge shift in the accounting profession in recent years due to the introduction of new technologies. The cloud, mobile, and IoT technologies have revolutionized the lives of clients and their business practices, so the expectation is that accountants will support and follow suit. These changes offer flexibility and advanced opportunities we’ve never had before.

More millennials are also coming of age to create businesses. Millennials will soon overtake previous generations as the largest generation in the workforce and are characterized as being early tech-adopters and they have communication methods that differ from prior generations. This is surely something to make any accountant sit up, listen and respond.

Successful accountants must understand their clients’ needs and trends in technology in order to not only meet expectations, but also exceed them.

How can you do that as an accounting professional?

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Get out from behind the desk

Half of young entrepreneurs believe that the concept of “your desk” is now defunct and that everybody in the future will work via some kind of mobile device.

Ushered in with this revolution is an expectation from clients that they want their accountant to work anywhere, and at any time. Remote working is the new norm, and this is especially true of millennials who are coming of age right now and starting businesses.

In short, clients expect their accountant to keep up – and the good news is that it’s not hard to do so. Apps and services like Skype and Slack let you chat and be involved within communities pretty much anywhere, while cloud-based accounting solutions not just let you keep in touch with clients, but also allow you to see real-time data, so you’re always ready with the right data at the right moment. And the technology you need is almost certainly right there in your pocket in the form of your smartphone, or in your bag in the form of the tablet you use to watch videos.

Offer advisory services

Research from the Sleeter Group showed that clients would like their accountant to be a specialist in their industry. This is a big ask of any professional, of course, but it’s entirely achievable by simply establishing and then keeping track of customer goals. And the route forward once again is provided by technology. For example, many cloud accounting tools will allow you to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in concert with your clients, that you can review periodically and then flag with the client when necessary.

Of course, there’s also good old-fashioned research. Taking a little time to delve into your client’s industry means you’ll be better positioned to compare their financial information to that of the competition, giving you a greater understanding of what your client needs to hit their KPIs.

Make work fun and engaging

We’re entering an era when the old ways may no longer make the grade: 43% of young entrepreneurs say that bureaucracy and red tape is demotivating. Essentially, they expect business to be as much fun and as engaging as any other part of their lives.

Nobody is in a better position to be aware of red tape as an accountant, but simultaneously nobody is in a better position to use their expertise, experience, and new technology to help a client avoid it. For example, cloud-based solutions have provisions to handle legal or compliance requirements built in and are always up-to-date. While your clients benefit from the fact you’re one step ahead, you will benefit when you’re alerted, guided, and protected from important legislation – with the result that your clients’ financial tasks are more straightforward.

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