The firm's fifth annual technology survey assessed nine separate categories of business advisory software and discovered usage increasing across the board among the survey respondents.
Integration of software to assist in cash flow and budgeting rose from its incorporation in 55 per cent of firms in 2014 to more than 70 percent in 2015, with scenario planning and business planning software now incorporated in over 50 per cent of firms.
David Smith, however, questioned the intentions behind the significant increase in uptake.
“I think a lot of accountants buy the software because they think that’s the answer for them to get into business advisory,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s actually not the case, because the most important thing to get into business advisory is to have better conversations with your client."
Mr Smith also noted there is a belief that advisory software is the key to offering business advisory services due to some accountants' inability to separate these new service offerings from compliance work.
“The rest of the business, the tax accounting and compliance business, doesn’t require the same level of engagement with the client. To be frank with you, some accountants don’t have the confidence to have those types of conversations at that deeper level with the client,” he said.
“It’s different in business advisory where it’s not a mandatory service. It’s a service that the client chooses, whether they want or not, and so therefore the accountant needs to be able to engage at a deeper level with the client."
Mr Smith said he supports a model within which the accountant acts as the first port of call for the client, pointing them in the direction of a specialist adviser after identifying the key issues, similar to a general practitioner.
“You’ve got to do the hard yards though – you’ve got to build that network of advisers around you, and you’ve got to get used to having these regular conversations with your client at a much deeper level,” he said.
“You know that you’re doing this right when you’ve got the clients crying in front of you.
“If you can help a client deal with the emotional concerns that they’ve got with their business or their personal finances, and you can actually get in there and help them solve that, you’ll get a client for life,” Mr Smith said.
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