The compliance-based relationship accountants once had with their customers is changing – thanks to digital disruption – meaning number crunching is no longer the core focus. Accountants are stepping into a trusted advisor role to provide deep and meaningful insights that inform customers’ business decisions.
What’s on the EOFY checklist?
Our small business customers tell us that end of financial year (EOFY) is a pain point which often stems from not understanding how to prepare. For example, our financial fitness survey showed there’s an opportunity for small business owners to become more proficient in managing their finances and building a strong financial foundation. The study found only 12 per cent of business owners believed they had a thorough understanding of their business’ finances. Knowing this, accountants can use EOFY as a relationship touch point by contacting clients ahead of time to ensure they understand what to do prior to filing their tax return.
Developing a simple checklist that details all items required to complete a tax return, including (but not limited to) checking transactions are correctly coded, running a stock take and digital versions of paper work available will provide your clients peace of mind ahead of EOFY. Taking this a step further, I’ve known some firms to proactively contact customers to share a customised tax time checklist which streamlines reporting and also strengthens the relationship.
The clock is ticking: new legislations and regulations
The shift to digital is increasing across Australia’s broader business landscape, with Government bodies such as the ATO spearheading data automation.
For example, SuperStream is mandatory for all employers with 19 or fewer employees from 1 July 2016. Independent research conducted late last year found around one third of employers weren’t even aware of SuperStream, let alone having an understanding of what was required to implement it.
A change in systems and processes can be confusing so SuperStream should be an integral part of your EOFY conversations this year.
New business focus areas for the NFY
While tax planning is an essential part of an accountant’s job, savvy firms also look at EOFY as time to check in and see where they can add value in the new financial year. Reviewing customer data and critically analysing it to draw out insights and identify potential growth areas is hugely valuable. Most small businesses are trying to do more with less these days and this is where accountants can play the strategic advisor role and help address areas of development in the new financial year.
Streamlining the EOFY process for next year
Beyond renewing your letter of engagement, accountants should use EOFY to evaluate how their clients maintain their books throughout the year. Despite strong take-up of cloud, there are still many small businesses not using this technology and not taking advantage of the business efficiencies on offer through related apps. Migrating your customers to technology that will automate data entry and speed up financial management will pay dividends for you and your client in 12 months’ time.