The jury may be out on whether tech is ultimately good or bad for us, but there’s no doubt that many areas of our lives are all the better for it. Remember having to struggle with a map as you drove along unknown roads? How about waiting at home for that telephone call? Or what about having to finish a film before developing it and seeing how the photos turned out? Many of these practices will sound ancient to millennials, but this was life before the tech explosion.
We’ve seen the rise of tech in every industry imaginable, and accounting hasn’t been left out. Gone are the days when accountants had to record every financial transaction by hand in a journal or copy them over to the general ledger. Processes like that went out the window with the rise of computers and all the time-saving number-crunching advantages they brought with them.
The way accountants now make use of tech to offer a more streamlined and efficient service with real added value benefits their clients no end.
Tech enables a more valuable offering
“Technology is an enabler that has changed the client-accountant relationship forever,” says chartered accountant Bobby Lane. “Discussions were previously based on historic information rather than real-time, up-to-date information that shows the current position and forecast positions. Strategic decisions are now based on information rather than gut instinct.”
According to Bobby, before accountants had these fast, accurate tools at their disposal a large proportion of the fee clients paid was just for processing services. “Now, the fees being paid have not changed dramatically but they are being paid for added value and advisory services. These have a far greater perceived benefit from the client’s point of view,” he explains.
There’s a tech solution to every need
One of the most significant advances for accounting is the opportunity brought about by cloud-based apps. Businesses can now analyse data in real-time, get unlimited storage space, sync files across multiple platforms and make sure their files are backed up and secure all really easily.
“I have used many cloud-based solutions for my clients,” says Bobby. “From reporting packages such as Spotlight and Futrli, EPOS systems such as Vend and solutions such as Expensify or Receipt Bank to automate receipt processing. The app ecosystem is a constantly changing and developing environment, and new solutions appear regularly that help to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Keeping on top of the latest options and the best of breed for each area is the challenge.”
Bobby is firm on one thing in this respect: there is not one system out there that is right for every client. “Some have strengths in certain areas and sectors where they will be appropriate,” he says. “The key is to find the right system for the business and not try and force a solution that doesn’t fit.”
Tech is changing the way we look at finance
Business funding has also shifted with these advancements in tech. The bank is no longer the only option for finance. Bobby believes that these advances are a really good thing. “Technology enables business owners to research, source and find the best solution for the business. It will speed up routine processing and allow businesses to focus their time where it’s needed most.”
Bobby explains that funding platforms are starting to add real value to SMEs with many of the platforms having their own clever tech supported by an advisory team who can assist and answer questions.
Tech professionalises businesses
“The Making Tax Digital initiative, for example, is a great instigator for businesses to update their accounting practices,” says Bobby. “It has forced business owners to implement accounting systems and stop running their business on the back of an envelope. These systems give business owners facts and information to base their decisions on. This means that the businesses of the future will be better run with well-informed owners.”
As businesses become more tech-savvy, they’ll expect you, as their accountant, to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to the best apps and cloud solutions. But if you don’t know your API from your elbow, choosing the right combination can be tough. Click here for a quick and easy introduction to expanding your accounting app stack.