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Accountants can lean on technology to improve client relationships


Adopting IT and telecommunications is forecast to be a key external driver of growth in the accounting services industry, IBISWorld’s Accounting Services in Australia.

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The accounting services industry in Australia is forecast to generate $20.9 billion in revenue in 2020-21 and $23.3 billion in 2025-26, according to IBISWorld’s latest Accounting Services in Australia report (April 2021). Demand for advisory and accounting services will continue to grow on the back of positive business confidence and rising private capital expenditure, the industry research house predicts.

IBISWorld also highlighted the role technology will have in growing the industry. “Additionally, technology adoption will likely improve efficiency and expand value-added services, supporting growth in profit margins,” the report says.

If an accounting firm can improve its own systems and processes with technology – giving time back to some of its accountants – it will also ultimately improve the quality of its client interactions.


Doing more with less

Melissa Voss is co-founder and head of clients and partners at FuseWorks, a firm she helped start up six years ago. As an accountant, she could see how automating many of the repetitive manual processes accountants do every day could create a much more efficient practice.

She says introducing new software systems to accounting firms can involve a bit of hand-holding, but ultimately most see the benefit of having automated systems carry out the most time-consuming administration tasks. 

“It’s not about throwing out everything you’ve ever done and starting from scratch, because legacy systems are expensive and often still hold lots of value,” Voss says. “It’s just about looking at what ways you can work better with some of the technology you’ve got and what other parts you can add to that technology stack.”

By having technology do as much as possible, Voss likes to say firms can keep their people available for the ‘human parts’ of the job.

Finding the right fit

Companies such as FuseWorks don’t just offer businesses an off-the-shelf solution, they usually do a discovery process to find out what a firm’s pain points and frustrations may be. Then they consider how technology might be able to help them.

“The technology we build is looking to streamline processes from the earliest point possible, so the accountants and the administration team get value and time savings, and ultimately the workflow is more efficient as you manage delivering information out to clients and tracking it to come back in. So, trying to reduce the time it would take to manage [those steps],” Voss says.

Automating processes has benefits for every layer of an accounting firm, from the accountants doing the work right up to management and directors.

“It saves time and there is more consistency of output and a reduction in errors,” Voss says.

And it improves directors’ ability to sign off on what’s been done as they can be confident the risk of human error is low.

Key success factors

Improved client relationships and interactions can translate through to the bottom line of a business. Across its hundreds of reports on different industry sectors, IBISWorld identifies 250 Key Success Factors for a business and, of those 250, the most important for the accounting services industry include establishment of brand names and maintenance of excellent customer relationships.

“Industry firms that maintain good customer relations are more likely to retain clients and secure a steady income,” the IBISWorld report for April 2021 says.

Membership of an industry organisation, providing development programs for personnel and having a diverse range of clients make up the five most important factors leading to success in this industry. 

Technology adoption is almost a necessity in the accounting industry as traditional accounting services approach market saturation, IBISWorld suggests.

“Real-time accounting services and cloud-based accounting have meant the industry must adapt to these services to remain competitive,” the industry researcher says. “Firms have also increased their range of services to include analytics products, which gain new insights into their clients’ businesses and enable firms to provide value-added services.” 

IBISWorld also predicts that a key external driver for the industry will be IT and communications adoption, at 2.1 per cent per year.

“Industry operators are increasingly incorporating technology, such as data analytics and cloud-based accounting, which has expanded value-added services,” IBISWorld says. “These value-added services have larger profit margins than traditional tax and audit processing, encouraging firms to diversify.”

The end game

Adopting technology across a business, if done well and appropriately, is good news for everyone – from the director to the customer. Technological advances have made it easier for different parts of a business to speak to each other, which makes for smoother processes and time savings for all, leaving professional accountants to focus on the value-add consulting services for their clients.  

Do you need to take a look at your business with fresh eyes? Our specialist team at MYOB are here to help. Click here for further information and business resources.

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