Paul Meissner, founder and managing director of 5ways Group, takes issue with recent industry debates that herald the death of compliance and actively advocate for an upswing in use of new technologies.
Mr Meissner is particularly sceptical of the role of technology companies in fuelling this debate, and questions whether the end users - clients and accountants - significantly benefit from the latest available technologies.
“A lot of the technology companies in the accounting space are trying to operate in every major geographical market and are largely fighting themselves,” he told Accountants Daily.
“I feel like there's a race to impress the media about the use of technology in accounting software. Do the practical efficiencies hit the end user as quick as they say? No,” he said.
He acknowledged that “shutting the roller door” on popular new technologies, particularly those that are cloud-based, will see clients walk. However, he played down the need for constant assessment and upgrade.
“I think it's a misconception they got to always use the latest or the flashiest,” he said.
Low-cost service providers, which are often heavily reliant on automation, are also not necessarily delivering on client satisfaction, said Mr Meissner.
He sees relationships and customer service as a central part of an accountant’s value proposition, not simply delivering on tax and compliance objectives.
“It's customer service rather than performance. It's not necessarily missing deductions that they should have got. The low-cost providers tend to be higher quantity, and that puts pressure on the turnaround time of phone calls and the ability to get questions answered,” Mr Meissner said.
“It's also our professional scepticism that sometimes provides as much value to the client, that conservative voice in their head or on the end of the phone, is often their accountant.”