New Survey Data Reveals CPAs Lack Technology to Fulfill Advisory Roles
More and more, accountants in the United States are doing less of the traditional accounting that we associate with the profession and more financial advising. A Sage Group poll recently found that 62 percent of accountants are offering expanded services that are focused on advising clients about tax law.
These services, which in include business advising, advice for start-up corporations, and advice regarding payroll, make up a major portion of a modern accountant’s workload. This focus on advisory services that don’t include number-crunching is paying off for many accountants. Three-fifths of accountants project that their business will grow in the next year, and almost thirty percent plan to expand their portfolio of advisory services.
What Is the Sage Accountancy Index?
Every year, the Sage Report surveys hundreds of accountants in the United States, and thousands worldwide, to create a report that indicates trends in the accountancy business both globally and for individual nations. For the U.S. report, over 250 American accountants were interviewed in the third quarter of 2014.
In addition, the Sage Report also interviews clients who use accountant services to measure the services they want to buy and other changes in the industry. The final report offers a clear picture of what accountants are offering and what clients want for them to offer.
The Role of the New Accountant
The Sage Accountancy Index over the past several years has found that the role of an accountant in the U.S. is changing. The new accountant focuses on a lot more than taxes and other number-crunching. This recent survey finds that most accountants are offering a variety of consulting and advising services. In addition, these expanded services are paying off, with accountants increasingly projecting business growth in the next year.
What are the most common expanded accounting services? According to this report, the top ones are business advice, data interpretation, and payroll services. In addition, a survey of businesses found that the services most business owners want from their accountant are business advice, accounting technology consulting, and mentoring. Smart accountants will cater to these needs and likely find further business growth and profit as a result.
The Tools of the Trade
The accounting industry is changing in our country, so the needed tools are changing as well. U.S. accountants clearly are embracing the new financial atmosphere, but many are not investing in the technology needed to be successful in their endeavors.
The Sage Group poll found that most accountants were reluctant to adopt new technology, especially internet technologies such as cloud computing. Only one out of ten accountants reported using cloud solutions or other online technologies to gain documents from and share information with clients. Almost 60 percent reported that they most often worked with their clients in person using paper documents.
How Can New Technology Help?
While most accountants are not using online technologies as an interface with clients, most are using them within other areas of their business and personal lives. Over half of all accountants use mobile and online technologies in their business, often for staff management. Most do not balk at using new technology in their business, but do not understand how cloud computing and other internet technology can help their business.
There are a few ways that cloud computing can help an accountant to work more efficiently, especially an accountant who focuses on advisory services. Cloud and other internet technologies allow both clients and the accountant to access documents at any time and place. With one out of three accountants in this survey answering that collecting documents from clients in a timely manner is their number one business obstacle, it is easy to see how cloud computing could help.
Technology that Meets Clients’ Needs
Clients, especially owners of small and medium sized businesses, increasingly report that they want more contact with their accountant and an expanded range of advice. These people feel that their accountant is in a good place to make advice regarding business plans and other business decisions. In addition, recent surveys show that business owners prefer to receive this information in a proactive and real time format rather than waiting weeks for an appointment.
This is one area where cloud and internet services can be very lucrative for an accountant. Because most accountants have not adopted this technology, a firm with the ability to offer real time advice is automatically set apart as a superior option.
More specifically, tax services such as e-filing in the cloud needs to become a standard with the new wave of tech-savvy accountants. They should be able to file 1099 misc online – and all other 1099’s and W-2 forms – for their clients using platforms they are 100% sure about. One of the industry leaders in this cloud service area is eFile4Biz.com. They not only efile 1099 and W-2 forms. They also collaborate seamlessly with all industry standard desktop and SaaS brands, and adhere to the highest levels of data security practices in the space.
The services that clients most want will increasingly require online and cloud technologies. There are a variety of accounting software programs that include these components. This is an excellent way for accounting businesses to see immediate growth while also meeting the needs of modern business owners.