In 1994, Bill Gates famously stated that banks were “dinosaurs.” This same description could easily be applied to the accounting industry today. For too long, many CPAs have been content to offer the traditional suite of accounting services: Tax preparation, audit assistance and occasional financial advice.
This is simply not enough. Small business customers demand (and deserve) more from one of their most trusted financial advisers.
Many accountants are reluctant to embrace new technologies due to fear of additional costs, a learning curve, the possibility that the new technology won’t work the way it’s supposed to and a diminished quality of service. These fears are valid. But with the popularity of DIY online tax preparation sites increasing every day, accountants that fail to embrace new technologies will soon go the way of the dinosaurs.
4 Ways Accountants Can Embrace Technology
By now, you’ve all heard of The Cloud. It might sound like some nebulous technology that only IT firms really use – but it’s not.
The cloud simply refers to hosting programs on an integrated, Internet-based platform that is accessible from anywhere. With the cloud, you and your clients can access programs from any device: desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile.
The cloud will improve your workflow and keep your customers happy.
Another way that accountants can utilize technology to boost sales is by connecting with their customers online.
If you don’t have a great website that explains your firm and how you can support small business owners, get one right now. Today’s business owners expect you to have an online presence. In fact, they might not trust you if you don’t.
Social media is a great free way to connect with your current and potential customers, announce new products and services and connect with potential partners.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Keep track of your current and potential customers, electronically track and issue invoices, monitor production and instantly evaluate your business’ performance by utilizing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program.
Salesforce is the biggest name in this space, but there are dozens of different companies that provide this Web-based service.
Strategic Financial Technology Partnerships
As I mentioned earlier, CPAs need to improve and expand their service offerings in order to compete in today’s marketplace. One way to do this is to develop strategic referral partnerships with other players in the financial services industry – especially those that are leveraging emerging technologies.
As one of their most trusted financial advisers with an intimate knowledge of their business finances, it’s natural that your customers might come to you with questions about cash flow, how to pay a tax bill, managing payroll, major financial investments, etc. Though you might not have the interest or resources to provide those services, a partnership with a financial technology company that you can refer them to will improve your own credibility as a forward thinking and trustworthy financial partner.
The small business industry is rapidly changing. I believe that as things continue to change, it’s important that my fellow service providers embrace new technologies and partnerships in order to provide the best value possible for our small business customers.
Embrace Photo via Shutterstock