What has the accounting industry learned in 2017 so far?
Where in the world has that time gone? We’ve just ticked off daylight savings in NSW, Easter and Anzac day approaching and I bet you’re already wondering what have we achieved so far this year. Great question. One that you should ask yourself every 3 months. What have we achieved and what do we need to work on for the next 3 months? Keep that in mind as we review the 5 things we’ve learnt so far this year. Which of these do you need to implement next quarter?
- Compliance is NOT Dead: Not today, not tomorrow. Compliance isn’t dead. Period. Is compliance work growing? Overall, my research and feedback from partners around the country would lean towards no. It’s not growing, but it’s not diminishing. So what I’m really getting at, is that whilst there’s big gloom and doom talk out there in the accounting world, it isn’t something you should be too concerned about. The robots are coming, but they’re not coming that quickly. And once they arrive, this author would suggest there are a couple of years if not more before you see automation and machine learning actually replacing the role of an accountant. Now this is great news for all that still rely quite heavily on compliance fees coming through the door. Feedback from the industry suggests that it’s been a busy year so far and compliance work is abundant for those that make themselves available to it. So ignore the doomsayers. Compliance is alive. Get back to business, focus on your firm and keep an eye on the future, the market and gauge what the market is telling you.
- Advisory and delivering value is still the popular direction of what’s next for accountants: In the past 4 weeks, I’ve travelled to London for the QuickBooks Conference and then back to Sydney for another 7 conferences, expos and road shows. And the most consistent topic I’ve heard, re-iterated and discussed with people just like you, is the accountant’s journey to business advisory, deep customer relationships and delivering a true value service. Now I would agree that accountants are in the best position to acquire the skills required and actually dive further into these types of service offerings. But this is something that will actually require a conscious effort of focus and training. If this is not something you’ve naturally been good at personally or as a firm, then you will need to invest training into your business or acquire the skill-sets necessary to actually roll these new service offerings out. Every man and his companion is telling the industry that advisory is where all accountants need to focus their time. My point is that I believe there is a muscle here that needs to be stretched and tested before it’s working at the right capacity. Invest the right time, acquire the skills needed to help deliver these services.
- Accountants not leveraging skillsets they already have: As part of my national travels I’ve had the pleasure of watching Wayne Schmidt, of Karbon HQ, dazzle and bewilder audiences with his lively and engaging practical advice for accounting firms. What amazed me the most was a section Wayne created around different types of service offerings could be using based on skills they’ve learnt as part of their university qualifications. Things like exit strategies and planning, debt collection for clients to help them improve their cash flow and my favourite, price setting of products and services. These are the tools and skills accountants have learned and have forgotten to utilise along their journey. When Wayne asked who was doing these services at the moment, less then 5% of the room would raise their hand. Straightaway I realised that this is the opportunity a firm needs, especially if no one else in their area is looking at are tackling these services.
- Cloud practice management: Now this is one I’ve seen and heard a lot about. I’ve spoken on a few segments about this before. Firms that are interested in moving into cloud practice management solutions are currently still operating and using an exchange server in the office, and a desktop practice management system that’s been in operation for 5, 10, 15 years. The reason firms are looking to move, especially in Australia is because we’ve fallen in love with the efficiencies we’ve been able to gain by using and leveraging cloud based accounting tools. Firms then want to be able to achieve the same type of flexibility and freedom in the cloud, anytime, anywhere access, removing all double handling points where possible. If you’re small to medium size firm say up to 10 employees, then you’ll find it easier to move into the suite of cloud practice management tools available. Larger firms are finding it harder to move and opting to stay on their existing desktop systems. This is partly because, like cloud accounting when it was first introduced, cloud based practice management is still in an early phase. Platforms aren’t complete to the standard of what firms are after, which means in order to truly leverage new tools in the cloud, your piecing together 2,3,4 or 5 different applications to complete your workflow suite. Now for the progressive firm that is focused on the efficiency and not scared of change, this isn’t really a problem. But majority of firms would rather wait it out and see what providers are doing and moving into next. Keep an eye on this space as it heats up.
- Price Sensitive clients: Hearing Mark Wickersham, pricing guru in the UK, talk through his approach to value based pricing has always been inspiring. Last month when I caught him in London, he dropped a few pennies for me that I hadn’t realised. When firms get fee pressure from clients it’s not because they’re price sensitive. It’s because they’re value sensitive. In a market where majority people have the latest iPhone, iWatch, iGadget of some sort there is a notion that clients who understand the value of you, your service and what you deliver to their business, are happy to pay your fees. Clients who are questioning you about the fees or trying to have them reduced, do not understand exactly what you are doing and why. They don’t value what you’re offering at that price. The only way to change this is to ensure you’re clearly communicating and over-delivering value to this client. Whilst I was in London, Mark asked the room if any of their price sensitive clients owned an Apple iPhone, the most expensive smart phone on the planet. A large percentage of the room raised their hand, to this point Mark went to explain that clients who own Apple iPhone understand what value means to them. If you believe they are price sensitive, you’re wrong. They’re value sensitive. I sat there mouth ajar, thinking, “Damn, that’s good”. Mark went on to talk through the importance of moving to value based pricing and away from hourly billing.
can i buy Priligy over the counter in Montgomery Alabama This year so far, we’ve seen that compliance is alive, advisory still the hot topic and direction for advisors, accountants not leveraging their education to create new services, cloud practice management still in its early phase and what price sensitive clients are really trying to say when they ask for reduced fees. What have you been working on so far this year? What have you seen? What have I missed? All of my points come from the minds and mouths of accountants just like you all around Australia. All five points really relate to what are we doing today and how are we going to exist in the future. Every firm is trying to understand how to transform and diversify away from their past. New technology has driven this change, but it’s not just a change of process, it’s created a transformational change of business model and it’s not finished yet. Keep an eye on the technology, watch your market. What are you hearing? What are you seeing? And keep an agile foot available to move in the direction you need to as you uncover more insights and gain more feedback.
http://althousesnursery.com/?p=716 Trent Mclaren, senior business development manager, Intuit QuickBooks Australia