By PJ Bishop, Vice-President for Partners, Accountants & Alliances for Africa & Middle East at Sage
Today’s accounting practices encounter a host of complex challenges in their operations, including attracting new customers, keeping up to date with evolving tax regulations and financial standards, and increasing demands on acquiring and retaining staff. These are accelerated by technological developments and pricing pressure, amplified by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are three significant challenges accounting practices face, along with tips to navigate them:
Like many other professionals, most accountants find themselves needing to do more than they have time for. This prevents them from being proactive and involved with their clients. Instead, they are sinking deeper into the daily grind. What’s more, the time they spend on routine work could be better directed to growing their customer base or pursuing higher-value engagements.
How to stay ahead of the pack: The right set of cloud-based accounting solutions can automate many of the routine processes that drain an accounting practice’s time, including compliance reporting. By reducing the time and effort spent on admin, chasing clients for information, and data entry, accounting practices can win back hours every day. They can easily onboard new customers to a cloud accounting solution and collaborate on their data in real time.
- Integrating new technology
Despite the many benefits technology provides accounting practices – like increased productivity, process transformation, and automation – many accountants are feeling the pressure to keep up with technology used inside and outside their clients’ businesses. The fact that cloud accounting is necessary to move to the next level makes it a daunting change.
How to stay ahead of the pack: Recognise that new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation offer the opportunity to create more value and address customers’ changing demands. Get your hands dirty, experiment with new solutions to see what they can do, and integrate them when you’re confident they will add value.
- Pressure on fees
Even before COVID-19, many small and medium businesses were under financial strain and looked for greater value from their accounting practices, resulting in increased resistance to hourly fees and a desire for outcome-based pricing. These pressures continue to grow as accounting solutions become easier to use, enabling clients to automate many tasks or processes with which they would once have needed an accountant’s help.
How to stay ahead of the pack: Forward-thinking practices are hiring advisors on technology and digital transformation, on growth, and on compliance. In doing so, they offer a richer proposition to their customer base. Adding more consulting and advisory services to the mix may seem daunting, but it offers the opportunity to boost earning power.
Change is here to stay
Technological advancements, globalisation, and evolving client preferences have made accounting practices realise that change is constant. It’s better to embrace the drastic changes already underway and lean towards the ones you’re aware are coming than trying to fight them. In spearheading transformation today, your practice can become more efficient, build better customer relationships, and get a head start on the future.
Sage is the global market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility and efficiency to manage finances, operations and people. With our partners, Sage is trusted by millions of customers worldwide to deliver the best cloud technology and support. Our years of experience mean that our colleagues and partners understand how to serve our customers and communities through the good, and more challenging times. We are here to help, with practical advice, solutions, expertise and insight.