Joseph Graziano, CFP®.
Accountants are part of an evolving industry where 82% of accountants agree that client expectations have widened. If you’re behind the trends, you risk becoming “obsolete.” Clients may still need your services, but they want an accountant to go the extra mile for them.
Preparing for tomorrow can help you situate your firm to be:
- Profitable today and in the future
- Sellable in the future (if that’s something you ever consider)
You can begin prepping for the future by implementing some of the recommendations below:
Cloud-based accounting is something that every accountant should be well aware of and start implementing if they haven’t already. You can better serve your local clients if you use the cloud and even expand outside of your local area.
Sage found that 67% of accountants prefer cloud-based accounting. Why?
The cloud offers you the freedom to:
- Better serve your clients across markets and expand services nationally
- Offer a remote workforce or work-from-home days to attract employees
- Work on client work anywhere that you have an Internet connection
- Allow clients to upload documents to portals and manage their accounting needs remotely
Thinking that transitioning to the cloud sounds overwhelming? It doesn’t need to be done overnight. You can begin implementing the cloud slowly. Create client portals or transition to cloud-based accounting solutions for your clients.
Cloud-based accounting solutions have an upfront cost to implement and train employees on, but the expense is often lower than software licensing, server costs, and other maintenance.
Encryption and strict data retention policies will help ensure that client data remains safe and secure even though it’s easier for your team and clients to access it.
Transitioning to the cloud, or any new type of technology, can turn away current clients and employees if you make an abrupt transition. Your firm should start with a slow transition that allows you to:
- Make the switch easier for your clients
- Train your team on best practices
- Educate your clients on using these new tools and systems
You can also use the cloud to begin offering advisory services to your clients to better serve their needs and expand your services at the same time.
Today, we’re seeing more firms transition from just offering traditional accounting services to serving an advisory role. Clients expect and want advisory services, like financial planning. In fact, 95% of accounting firm leaders say their clients want more advisory services.
When you offer advisory services, your firm becomes a one-stop-shop for all of your clients’ financial needs. If your firm embraces solutions like cloud-based accounting that save time and streamline operations, your team will have more time to focus on offering these services.
Firms also have the option of partnering with other firms to offer these services. Partnerships will allow you to:
- Meet client needs without overworking your team
- Offer services that your team may not be capable of offering
Advisory services are becoming a standard service offering in today’s world. If your firm fails to offer these services, it’s likely that your firm will eventually fall behind the competition and struggle to maintain clients.
Cybersecurity is becoming an increasing threat to businesses all over the world, and that includes accounting firms. Since 2020, accounting firms have seen a 300% increase in cyber attacks.
Cyberattacks are especially concerning for accounting firms because they hold sensitive client data:
- Financial records
- Bank account information
- Tax identification numbers
- Intellectual property
A single cyber attack could put all of your clients’ identities and finances at risk. Many accounting firms make the mistake of assuming that their data is safe. However, every business – even Fortune 500 companies – is at risk of cyber attacks.
Cybersecurity must become a priority to avoid legal ramifications, preserve your reputation, and prepare your firm for tomorrow. Consider:
- Offering cybersecurity training to your team
- Implementing cybersecurity solutions (software, tools, etc.)
We live in a digital world. Accountants must learn how to embrace the idea of building digital relationships. Why? Because this is what both clients and team members want and expect.
How do you build digital relationships?
- Offer remote working options for your team
- Utilize collaborative tools for clients and employees
- Create digital portals for clients and your workforce
- Start marketing your firm through digital channels such as social media
Embracing digital channels and offering remote working options to team members will help your firm prepare for tomorrow.
To prepare for tomorrow, firms must be willing to embrace current trends and technologies. Cloud-based accounting solutions will save time and streamline operations. Advisory services will help you better serve clients and meet their needs. Focusing on cybersecurity will help protect your firm and its reputation, and building digital relationships will help you move confidently into the future of an ever-increasingly digital world.
Joseph Graziano, CFP® is the vice president and wealth management partner at FFP Wealth Management. Through FFP management, Joe and his team help manage over 2.4 billion in assets. FFP Wealth Management has served the unique needs of the accounting community for over 28 years and was formed out of dire need for accountants and financial planners to join forces in providing premium services to their clients.