These changes are being reflected in a significant shift in the way compliance-orientated accounting services such as preparing financial statements, filing of tax returns, and bookkeeping are handled.
It is now commonplace for many processes to be automated, freeing up accountants’ time to generate new income streams in areas such as business advice, or to take on more compliance clients.
We are strong supporters of accountants leveraging this change by increasing their presence as strategic advisers, particularly in areas relating to increasing efficiencies to grow their clients’ businesses, as well as their own.
With that in mind, the concept of the ‘connected practice’ is our vision for the future of the accounting and bookkeeping industry. It is the coming together of three critical functions within a practice: transaction processing, compliance and business advisory. These three accounting workflows are more closely intertwined than ever before.
The connected practice should be seen as a blueprint for accountants to take their clients on a journey to develop new opportunities and income streams. By recognising the potential the connected practice offers, accountants and bookkeepers can capitalise on the time savings that automation brings.
In MYOB’s latest Future of Business report, we explore a future that is more connected and enabled by technology, but also one that offers more opportunities for rewarding lifestyles. And contrary to popular belief, the report shows that people will remain at the core of success for businesses in the future.
However, our research into Australian SMEs also shows that accountants have much work to do if they are to help their clients take full advantage of time-saving technology. The most recent MYOB Business Monitor report revealed that 55 per cent of business owners are still uncomfortable with cloud-based technology beyond email.
The twist is that the same survey also revealed that small businesses that adapt to new technologies are much more likely to experience growth.
If the majority of SMEs are yet to realise the benefits of leveraging technology to streamline business operations, accountants have unparalleled opportunities to embed themselves as strategic advisers for their clients.
For example, a recent MYOB Snapshot survey into retirement readiness among SMEs found that business owners tend to leave retirement preparation until after 50 years of age, with 52 per cent of those aged under 50 having done no retirement planning at all. In this instance, there is a clear opportunity for accountants to step into an advisory role to emphasise the importance and benefits of taking early measures to prepare for life in retirement.
By showing their clients what is possible if they embrace new technologies, and using the principles of the connected practice to free up more time for their own business development opportunities, accountants can look forward to a prosperous, automated future in which they are a central part of their clients’ business success.
Andrew Birch is general manager, industry solutions at MYOB.