Businesses want more from their accountants than just the numbers. They want advice about what the numbers mean in the long-term. This is why accountants need to start thinking of themselves as consultants and strategists who tap into the technology and talent that future-proof their own businesses, and also their clients’.
Clients want their accountants to guide them on what they need to do next, and what the likely consequences of certain decisions are. They need help with scenario planning and identifying risks and opportunities in their businesses and markets.
To offer this level of trusted service, accountants need to shift their focus from numbers to how they can add value and help their clients to grow their businesses.
Here are a few ways to do that.
Move to the cloud
Cloud-based accounting software makes business sense. Multiple teams can access the same data at the same time – securely, from anywhere. This allows your teams to work faster and more efficiently, which positively impacts customer service.
The cloud shortens the distance between you and your clients, in that you can access their data on your mobile and respond quickly to queries and business and market changes. This means you spend less time bound to a desk and more time engaging with your clients.
You probably use your phone to order food and book a ride; why wouldn’t you want this same convenience in your business? Mobile applications give you real-time access to your information, keeping you informed and connected while you’re on the go.
Customers in all industries are already demanding mobile and flexible solutions from service providers, and accounting is no different. Give your clients the convenience they want by making it easy for them to engage with you and access their information in real time.
Change your mindset to advisor and partner
Accounting firms offer a lot more advisory services today than they did even five years ago, and a big chunk of their revenue comes from services that have little to do with core accounting. Today, quarterly tax returns and financials are the bread-and-butter work. The real value comes from being a year-round business advisor. This is how you retain clients, not by balancing books, which businesses can easily do themselves with cloud-based accounting software.
Don’t waste time on tasks that can be automated
Time tracking, invoice chasing, billing, project management – all these tasks consume valuable time and resources but make little difference to the bottom line, despite them being necessary to run a successful firm. Cloud-based accounting software automates many of these processes, freeing up your time to consult with your clients.
Changing the way you work also means changing the way you bill. Move from billing by the hour, to charging a fixed fee for the value you add.
Become a year-round consultant
Client demands and expectations are changing. Accountants need to evolve their approach to better meet these needs. If your firm is not getting the same results it did in the past, it might be time to adapt.