A couple of weeks ago saw the second annual Accountex USA convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Accountex brings together hundreds of technology solutions from around the world and presents them to an audience of forward-thinking accounting professionals, and we were proud to be a part of it.
Amongst everyone who visited our stand, the buzzword we heard the most was innovation. Innovation within the profession, within processes, within services. Attendees were keen to know how to use technology to streamline their processes for the benefit of their clients – and we were happy to discuss it with them!
We were also glad to see so many of our Partners stopping by, as well a number of thought leaders from the conference. Given the discussions we’d had with other attendees, we decided to pitch them a question:
What role does technology play in fostering a ‘culture of innovation’ within the accounting and bookkeeping industry?
Out of all the amazing conversations we had, here are four gems we liked in particular:
1. It’s not if, but when
We are now at the stage where if you don’t think automation is the future of accounting, you’re probably in denial. But that doesn’t mean the end of the profession altogether.
"Technology is the backbone of innovation in any business,” said Kacee Johnson, founder of Blue Ocean Principles, “but [it is] especially important in the accounting profession. According to a PwC report in Accountants Today, accounting and auditing have a 94% chance of being automated over the next two decades. The two roles came in second after telemarketing, which has a 99% chance of being automated.
“Removing the fear and embracing the change to add value is key to longevity for a firm,” said Johnson. In other words, accept the move toward automation now and reap the benefits later – the benefits being more time and flexibility to offer a better service to your clients.
2. Stop looking backwards
Accounting is an industry built on process, some of which have been in place for hundreds of years. Unsurprisingly, these traditions can take a while to change. But with more digital tools than ever available, it is crucial to adapt to the climate. And maybe even predict change before it happens.
“Accounting has been focused on the past,” says Visionary and Strategist Gary L. Boomer of Boomer Consulting, “but with digitisation the data becomes valuable and with analytics, predictable. Bookkeepers and accountants are faced with the fact they must move up the continuum of value in order to remain successful and future ready.”
3. Make the jump to advisory services
Automation is on the rise, which means menial tasks, such as data entry, are on the decline. But this shouldn’t be a cause for concern – in fact, this frees up your time to offer your clients a more tailored experience.
With tools like Receipt Bank, where clients can submit receipts and invoices via the cloud, data is updated instantly rather than staying backlogged for months. As a result, we’re seeing a big shift to what we like to call ‘real-time’ accounting. The real-time factor means that you can offer clients more accurate advice, which in turn makes your advice more valuable.
“Innovation occurs when you have hindsight, insight and foresight,” Boomer continues. “The focus in the future will be on higher value advisory services while most compliance services will be automated. Think. Plan. Grow.”
4. Use technology to be more human
Founder of QA Business Pty Ltd, Clayton Oates put forward the idea that using technological tools can actually strengthen your client relationships – and we completely agree! With less time spent on paperwork, there’s much more time to spend on building solutions that work for your clients.
“Technology is an enabler, a conduit for creating deeper client connection,” says Oates. “The innovation mindset is one of continual improvement, and this epitomises the future direction of the client/advisor relationship. A growing relationship built around shared discovery of the client’s needs, together with the recommendation and implementation of solutions.”
We had an incredible time at Accountex USA 2017 and greatly enjoyed meeting all of you who came by the stall! In this culture of innovation, we are proud to be a part of such an ambitious, creative community. Bring on Accountex 2018!
Can’t wait until Accountex 2018? We’ll be at Xerocon UK on 4th and 5th October, so swing by the stall and have one of our cloud experts walk you through Receipt Bank in a one-on-one demo session.
Plus, once you complete the demo you’ll receive a goodie bag worth £100 !