Today’s accountant only needs four tools to start a practice, or to have available, if they are working in an industry for a business.
They are as follows:
- Mobile Phone
- Computer (preferably Laptop)
- Software (breaks down to a number of categories, including productivity software such as Microsoft 365 or the GSuite)
- Internet Access
In addition, everyone needs customers or clients to service; otherwise, you would just be sitting around looking nice.
In the old days, before the personal computer, all you needed were paper and pencil to do the work. Today, it is all about the cloud and being connected to your clients to provide them with real time information. That is why it is important to be online so that you are able to create alerts and dashboards that will give you the ability to monitor and advise your clients on a regular basis. As the accounting profession changes from doing the compliance work to being the advisor, you should assist your clients in being more productive, profitable and liquid.
This leads me to another essential for every accountant: Software. This is where it gets interesting, with many different choices, depending on what type of services you render as the accountant or bookkeeper. If you were to choose accounting services as the niche you serve, then you would need to utilize the different alternatives to deliver the accounting information. If you choose tax services, you would look at different software. In this article, I will focus on rendering accounting services with a scant mention of tax. (In another, I will take us down the tax accounting specialization.)
As a provider of accounting services, you need to help your clients gather the data and be able to pull it together, in order to help them make decisions from the financial information you have provided.
Today’s process is all about choosing an accounting platform or operating system as methodology for being consistent. QuickBooks Online is one choice you can make as the tool to gather the data at its source. It is no longer about entering the data, but instead, automating the capture of data at the source, such as through a Point of Sale (POS) system directly into QuickBooks, or another accounting system of choice. Checks should no longer be written when this function can be automated, which reduces the time it takes to pay bills. The 2016 Accounting Trends Client Bill Payment Survey by Bill.Com supports this observation. It is all about reducing the amount of data entry you do now, or no data entry, as seen in the diagram below:
As I look at the diagram above, I can start to tweak it to meet the particular client’s or customer’s needs. I have added an automated tool below called Hubdoc, which automatically fetches the invoices from vendors and works directly with Bill.com to refine the process.
I can continue this process and choose an app from this ecosystem that best suits the client and workflows that I want. In the illustration below, I have a choice of various tools available to let me be proactive in giving advice.
I can go on, but the bottom line is that an accountant needs to shift from doing compliance work to that of doing “advisor” work, in order to move forward in this new online, connected world of collaboration. You have to stay up to date on technology in order to be able to do this.
I would recommend to everyone who wants to be a “Firm of the Future” to visit the apps store of whatever accounting solution they utilize. It’s the way to stay up to date and be informed of the tools that are out there to help clients and themselves to grow.
Today it is all about automation and advice, as opposed to doing compliance work.