Get the latest accounting industry trends all in one place, along with tips on how to put them into practice.
Whether it’s at a conference, on social media, in an industry publication, or on a blog, lately it feels like the same accounting trends keep cropping up. From attracting and retaining talent, to improving client experience, to talking about workflow automation through cloud-based accounting systems, these are the current accounting trends that are taking over news feeds.
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How Is the Accounting Industry Changing?
It would be a massive understatement to say that accounting firms and professionals were under a lot of pressure at the height of the pandemic. Keeping up with government subsidy offerings for clients was a challenge on its own, as well as helping clients pivot where needed, and in some cases, stay afloat.
With accountants and bookkeepers working flat out to support their clients at a turbulent time, a lot of industry conversations focused on increasing efficiency and saving time–pretty much anything that might take off some of the burden practitioners were under.
Lately, that conversation is shifting. More and more I’ve been hearing my peers talk about actioning the things they’ve been wanting to do, but just didn’t have the capacity to take on during the pandemic. Things like improving client experience, building your professional network, and keeping your staff engaged.
The best part? These are all things you can start working on today.
Client Experience Is More Important Than Ever
Accounting is a client-facing industry, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that client experience is high on the list of emerging accounting trends. But, while a lot of people in the accounting world are whizzes at analyzing financial data, sometimes client experience gets overlooked in our profession.
A lot of accounting and finance professionals use software to help with crunching numbers and automating accounting processes–which is great–but it’s important to remember that providing accurate data is not a differentiator.
Instead, this is the time to ask yourself what you can do to offer your clients a memorable experience. In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is by taking the time to connect, listen, and get an understanding of what your clients really need help with.
As a CPA and former firm owner, I know first-hand the value of avoiding “high-friction experiences,” but I’m excited to see the conversation shift toward creating great client experiences (instead of just avoiding bad ones).
Which Interaction Offers a Better Client Experience?
Say a small business client asks for your help with filing their taxes. You could collect their financial information, prepare their return, and tell them you’ll see them again next tax season.
Or, you could have a conversation about any concerns they have with their bookkeeping, then find out they’re struggling to effectively use the systems or software they have in place, or even find out they’re doing repetitive accounting tasks manually because they aren’t fully utilizing technology. With that information, you could easily give them a next-level customer experience by offering technology suggestions, training, or advisory services.
It might be an oversimplified example, but you can imagine how taking the time to really understand what your clients need makes it easier for you to help them, and builds long-lasting relationships at the same time.
Partnerships Are an Extension of Your Team
It’s easy to look at business partnerships as transactional, especially when they’re between accounting firms and software vendors. While that might have traditionally been the case, the right partnerships can offer accounting professionals a lot more value beyond the technology itself.
The software vendors you partner with can be like an extension of your team, and like any team member, you want to build trust and know that they’ll work in your best interest. One of the easiest ways to build trust is the same way you would with any new team member–through shared goals and values.
What to Look For in a Technology Partnership
Look for partners whose professional culture and values align with yours. Partners should be:
Invested in your success. Do they go the extra mile to give you an extraordinary partner experience?
Listening to your feedback. Listening to feedback is great, but are they doing anything to implement it?
Committed to helping you support your clients. Do they offer additional training or eliminate barriers in other ways?
People you actually want to talk to! And are they available when you need them?
Accounting professionals have many choices when it comes to choosing technology, so it’s important to weigh your options and see which stand out as right for your business.
Looking at it from an accounting software perspective, a partnership could mean ongoing education, networking opportunities, dedicated support channels, and access to an online community of peers.
The Power of Community
Getting together with peers during conferences always reminds me of how tight-knit the accounting industry is. “I’ve found my people” is a shared sentiment in these spaces, as professionals come together with common passions and a desire to support and learn from one another.
Accounting conferences are a great reminder of the power of community within the profession, and the value of networking opportunities. As we look toward the future of accounting, the ability to build meaningful peer relationships is high on the list of future trends.
Whether it’s by engaging on social media platforms (#TaxTwitter, anyone?), or by joining an online community, there’s a lot to gain from nurturing these relationships. It could be as simple as having someone to bounce ideas off, or it could help make the connection with a new client.
It can also help with professional development through new opportunities to engage with accounting leaders who can offer valuable insights as you build and grow your practice.
Improving Workflow Through Automated Accounting Processes
Every accounting firm looks for ways to simplify its business operations and deliver efficient services. Accounting technology continues to be a hot topic as firms use software to implement automated processes and cut down on administrative tasks.
But, making changes to workflow is easier said than done. There’s no doubt that completely automating workflow would help accounting firms save time, but not every firm needs a total overhaul.
Instead, firms can analyze business operations and start by finding ways to reduce their biggest bottlenecks. For accountants working with small business owners, using the right cloud-based accounting software can facilitate a collaborative accounting model.
By utilizing one system that enables your client’s operational functions and also eliminates manual and repetitive tasks, firms can move into higher-value accounting services, like consulting or advisory services.
Attracting and Retaining Accounting Talent
Before the pandemic, attracting and retaining employees in the accounting industry (unfortunately) wasn’t something that many practitioners were focused on. Now, with workplaces forever changed by COVID, it’s one of the latest accounting trends.
People expect a lot more from their employers. They want to work for organizations that share their values, participate in the community, offer a flexible working environment, and offer work/life balance.
We have a tendency to look at time saved as an opportunity to do more work. However, as accounting software solutions help firms save time by automating accounting functions, some firms are choosing to use that time to give their teams more balance.
That’s not to say the type of work getting done should be overlooked. Cloud-based accounting and automated accounting systems make it easier for firms to offer a wider variety of accounting services. Rather than spending all day buried in accounting data, firms can move into advisory services–giving team members the chance to vary their roles and act as financial advisors.
As Far as Accounting Trends Go…
There’s no magic wand when it comes to putting the latest accounting trends into practice. However, it’s worth assessing your business today and analyzing your processes to see what’s working and if it’s time to shake things up.
Not sure where to start? Explore our partner program and connect with an online community to get first-hand insights from other accounting professionals or reach out to our Accounting Partner team at firstname.lastname@example.org.