At Thought Leader Symposium, Sage emphasizes helping accounting firms work better with small business clients

DALLAS, TX -- During a presentation to the top thought leaders in the accounting profession, Sage North America executives focused on its strategy of helping professional accountants and their clients work more productively together.

Sage made its presentation on Sunday, the first day of the 2013 Thought Leader Symposium. The annual event is hosted by CPA Practice Advisor, a national publication and digital resource for tax and financial professionals. It is being held at the Omni Mandalay hotel in Dallas, Texas.

“We are hearing from many professional accountants that they think many of their previously core services, like tax compliance, are being commoditized,” said Jennifer Warawa, Vice President of Partner Programs and Channel Sales
Sage Accountants Network, Sage North America. She said the company reaches out to its customers across the U.S. and Canada, including holding focus groups in many cities.

“Firms are wanting to change, to be recognized as true business partners by their business clients. At the same time, these business owners are saying they want their accountants to be more like a partner,” she added. Many know they want more help, but they don’t necessarily know how to ask their accountant, and they want to better understand the information they are given.

As a part of Sage’s presentation, Tom Hood led an interactive brainstorming session focused on helping a small practice owner better serve her clients, including how to develop new services and strengthen her position as a trusted business advisor, not only a tax compliance expert. Hood is a CPA and the executive director of the Maryland Society of CPAs.

“Accountants want to be more involved with their clients’ businesses,” he said. “They want to be a trusted advisor, not a compliance jockey.” This echoes what Sage hears from those on the business side, who say they feel overburdened with compliance and tedious processes.

Warawa also briefly discussed the recent decision by Sage to sell off its Act!, SalesLogix and Sage Non-Profit Solutions. The company officially announced that move on Friday, and Warawa said it is part of Sage North America’s enhanced focus on its core areas, which she said accounting, ERP and payroll.

“These recent moves and our development are a testament that shows where Sage is focusing and investing,” she said. “This is a very exciting time in the professional accounting market, with professionals undergoing and trying to manage significant changes. CEO Pascal Houillon has made it clear that helping accounting professionals work better with their clients is a key part of our the our strategy. From the top down, we are aligning everything to our vision and our focus on customer needs.”

The Thought Leader Symposium will continue on Monday and Tuesday, with leading technology vendors discussing their plans for future development and growth as it affects practice of tax and public accounting.