On its face, it can seem like an easily solvable equation. Clients are looking for more value from their CPA firm or accounting professional. From their end, CPA firms and accounting professionals understand that providing accounting advisory services is necessary for moving beyond the status quo. So, with a market that’s looking for a service and an industry that’s willing and able to move beyond the status quo to provide that service, why do 41% of small businesses still cite being more reactive than proactive as a top complaint about their accountants¹?
Accounting professionals may have more time, but are they spending it in the right way?
Technological improvements, like Artificial Intelligence and business automation, are saving accounting professionals more and more time each day. However, more time available for CPA firms and accounting professionals hasn’t necessarily translated into more time spent in the right areas. 92% of CPAs say they don’t feel future-ready.² And a surprising 44% say they don’t use cloud-based software.³ That is a lot of missed opportunity. Cloud-based systems aren’t just a growth opportunity. They are part of a modernization effort that is required by CPA firms and accounting professionals for service innovation. If a CPA doesn’t feel future ready, how can they be proactive with their clients? How can they move beyond the status quo?
What’s a firm to do?
It can be hard for any accounting professional to find time in their day. Exploring opportunities to streamline, delegate, and eliminate customers that aren’t a good fit for your organization should take priority. This will allow time for designing new offerings, like advisory services, and acquiring any new skills to deliver those services – think data analysis, cash flow forecasting, process improvement, and estate planning.
With so much competition for compliance services, differentiation is critical. Differentiation both through accounting advisory services, and in some circumstances, specialized practice areas – like accounting work for restaurants, retail, or nonprofits – is increasingly important.
A strong foundation that allows access to critical business applications, better security, and more flexibility/scalability will free-up time and mental energy for a CPA firm’s elevation of services. Rather than fussing with on-premise software and applications, worrying about security, or planning your day around being at your desk, you can safely pass those worries to experts who will support you.
If your practice is not yet up to speed, you are not alone. Many CPAs don’t think they’re “future-ready.” The good news is, it’s not too late to start to change your offerings and pivot your firm. Now is a great time to start, since very soon, “normal” won’t be enough.
(1) 2016 State of Small Business Report, Wasp Barcode Technologies
(2) August 2017 “Putting CPAs at the Center of the Digital World”, Accountex
(3) 2016 National Management of an Accounting Practice, AICPA
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