How can firms remain competitive alongside cloud-native practices?
Like many other industries, the pandemic forced practices to think on their feet and adapt. Many adopted digital, automated cloud-based tools tailored specifically to the needs of accountants to consolidate their operations. The ease of use and scalability of these tools also gave rise to hundreds of new firms. In just the month of March 2020, a record 636 new accounting practices were founded.
These ‘cloud-native’ firms can streamline lengthy processes and tasks, becoming the de facto standard of any practice starting out due to their affordable pricing, ease of use and efficiency. All of which enables accountants to focus on offering clients higher-value advisory services. Many established firms have moved their operations either fully to the cloud or are in the process of migrating from desktop. In fact, over 70% of our customers are in the cloud, despite the pandemic and continued economic uncertainty. With this tsunami of migration, competition in the accountancy profession is as fierce as ever.
Join the cloud-native party
To keep up with competition and stay ahead in the market, change doesn’t have to be big, audacious, or even expensive. Making incremental adjustments can lead to a world of difference.
The starting point should always be providing clients with better informed advice and insight. This could be as simple as tweaking current processes to provide clients with services they didn’t even know they needed.
Small changes can also have a big impact on culture and recruitment. If practices want to stand out as a desirable place to work in today’s job market, they need to consider evolving internal operations and working styles to attract the best talent. Not only will attracting and retaining top candidates positively impact clients through the services they provide, it will also help practices plan for the future in the knowledge they have the best people best placed within their organization.
To successfully deliver the best services and advice to clients, all the while enhancing culture in the process, accountants need digital-first solutions that access real-time and accurate data across every aspect of their firm.
Life on the cloud
Powered by the cloud, real-time data enables accountants to metaphorically ‘look over the shoulder’ of clients and gain a thorough understanding of what's happening in their business. This increases the touchpoints between both parties, widening the scope for additional collaboration.
The cloud provides actionable data that helps accountants give forward-looking advice rather than just completing year-end tax filings - the general bread and butter. It also provides aggregated insights from across a firm’s client base, amalgamating the data and performance of businesses in the same sector. These services are now essential as accountants deal with rebuilding from the pandemic.
The benefits of cloud-based tools aren’t even strictly restricted to servicing clients - practices can also benefit internally. Post-pandemic, employees now expect different working experiences and styles. The cloud enables employees to work from anywhere, provided they have a laptop and an internet connection. Not only is this appealing for Millennials and Gen Z who seek greater flexibility in the way they work, it helps other employees with commitments, such as single parents who can choose the hours they work to fit in with their life using cloud-based tools and systems.
In a world of digitization, the accounting profession is sometimes guilty of being slow to innovate - I know a number of firms that still use outdated technology. This reluctance to modernize is harmful and damaging the value proposition of accountants. Ultimately life on the cloud simplifies long drawn out and inefficient processes, so it’s no wonder firms that have already adopted these tools are thriving.
Take one step to the right
Accounting professionals are a critical part of every business, helping them stay on track and grow in good times and bad. However, to remain competitive and stave off competition from cloud-native new-comers, they need to successfully deliver the best services and advice to clients. To do this, accountants need digital-first solutions.
Using real-time, accurate data across every aspect of their firm to create workflow efficiencies, accountants can ensure they have the tools needed to thrive and transform their firms and clients’ businesses today, and tomorrow.