Two Key Questions for Accounting Firms and CPAs

I recently attended the second annual Cloud Symposium along with 48 other industry thought leaders and vendor executives. CPA2Biz executives hosted the event at AICPA corporate offices in New York. Over the course of the event, I listened to several vendors’ plans for moving their applications to the cloud and from other vendors who have been in the cloud from the start. At an event titled “Cloud Symposium,” I expected nothing less than a focus on cloud applications.

What became clear very early on was CPA2Biz’s desire to help educate the profession on cloud technologies and make the transition. And this effort could not be better timed, as many vendors indicated a move to the cloud in the very near future. Vendors are quickly developing platforms and products designed to work strictly online. So, if you are still asking if this “cloud thing” is really going to take off…trust me that it’s already here, and here to stay. For firms, that means it’s time to get on board.

Just two weeks after attending the Cloud Symposium, I joined the CPA Practice Advisors’ Top 25 Thought Leaders for a three-day event in Dallas.

In attendance were the best and brightest, gathered to discuss everything from emerging technologies to strategic changes in behavior required by firms. The overriding theme from the group was the need to rethink the services firms offer and how services are delivered.

Much of the profession has been focused on compliance work, whether that’s tax preparation, financial statements, or audit reports. As a whole, the profession seems to be sticking with “doing what we’ve always done.” The key question from thought leaders was: “What do clients really want from their accounting professional?”

The answers that kept coming up were higher-level advisory services and advanced platforms—that is, insights into the client’s business, benchmarking data, immediate access to information, and the technology required to work collaboratively and conveniently.

Vendors, the profession, and our clients are all moving quickly to adopt cloud-based and mobile technologies. As such, once tax season is over, it will be time to immerse yourself in learning about these technologies and setting up a game plan to adopt the right solutions for your firm.

In summary…I attended two great events and left with two really interesting questions. I leave you to ponder these questions:

  • What is your plan for dealing with technologies related to the cloud?
  • Are you willing to take the time to identify what services your clients really want from you?

I think if you can answer these questions with some clarity, you’ve taken the first big step in moving your firm forward.

Darren is the Executive Editor of CPA Practice Advisor. He remains in public practice as the principal of Root & Associates, LLC, in Bloomington, Indiana, and is president of his consulting practice, RootWorks. He formerly served on the Board of the AICPA’s CITP Credentials Committee and is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Indiana CPA Society. He speaks at dozens of professional organizations each year and frequently serves as a guest lecturer at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.