When it comes to their finances, SMEs have always had a hard time. That's why the smart ones hire an accountant or bookkeeper to help them out with bookkeeping, compliance and growth. But new tools are widening the range of ways you can help your clients. Here are four ways you can use new technology to add more value for your clients.
1. Easier access to credit
Accessing extra working capital is a perennial issue for small businesses. The truth is that the pace of traditional lending has not kept up with the fast moving world SMEs. And it looks like the problem is getting worse.
In 2016 it was reported that 58 per cent of SMEs cannot get funding at APRs below 8 per cent, compared to 52 per cent in 2015. In a time when 54% of SMEs say cash flow is their biggest obstacle to business growth this is clearly a situation that needs improving.
As the natural advisor to SMEs, accountants are ideally placed to manage lines of credit for their clients.
Cloud-integrated lending allows intelligent software to make a quick assessment based on your client’s books, and offer them a loan in minutes, not months. One prominent example is iwoca, a small business lender that now makes quick-credit decisions based on your clients' books thanks to a new Xero integration.
All you need to do is help your client make the right choice.
2. Deleting Debtor Days
For SMEs, cash is king. However, many business still struggle with getting paid on time.
Tools like Chaser are already making it simpler to automate invoice chasing but new technology is going even further. Tools such as Tide, a new challenger bank for SMEs will not only be raise invoices and send them, but track them and send reminders if they go unpaid.
This gives you the opportunity focus on prioritising activity based on the state of your clients businesses finances in real-time.
No accountant or bookkeeper likes enter data into their clients’ accounting software, and nor do your clients. Luckily, smarter AI-assisted OCR technology is making data extraction smarter, faster and more accurate.
Receipt Bank has invested heavily in our artificial intelligence capabilities in recent years, with the aim of making our data extraction the fastest, most accurate solution available.
Receipt Bank partners save on at least 1hr per week per client on data entry, and many partners report cutting their bookkeeping time in half.
4. Offer Instant advice
Even the best trusted advisor can’t be at their client’s beck and call 24/7. That’s why major software vendors like Xero and Sage are building smarter chatbots to handle some of the simpler accounting tasks and help makes numbers clearer for clients.
While Xero are still developing their bot, Sage has already debuted their own – Pegg. Likely going off their own research that 86% of accountants would be happy for technology to make such admin elements of their job invisible, Sage are racing ahead to be the first bot on the market.
These bots aren't designed to replace accountants - the same research above revealed that 96% of accountants are confident about the future of accountancy and their role in it. They're closer to an accountant's assistant - doing the boring bits so you can focus on the useful work.
The power of data
The role of the accountant or bookkeeper is definitely changing, but these new tools are giving you the ability choose your new path. Once you have an efficient data system in place, you can use that data to go in any direction you choose.