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Technology pushes accountants to change fee structure


New technology is allowing accountants to be more collaborative with clients and forcing the industry to rethink its remuneration structure.

By James Mitchell and Katarina Taurian 8 minute read

Xero national sales director Trent Innes told AccountantsDaily that as cloud computing gathers momentum, most of the discussions he is having with accountants are about industry disruption.

“You are now able to have much more regular discussions and collaboration with your clients,” Mr Innes said.

“As a result of that we are seeing a lot of accountants moving away from per-minute or six-minute billing towards a fixed-fee type of model. 

“The reason for that is they are having more constant engagement with their clients and becoming true advisers to them.”

Mr Innes said technology such as cloud computing – in which clients’ data is stored in the cloud – is allowing accountants to be more mobile, rather than tied to their desk.

“Technology is allowing them to be truly collaborative and true business advisers,” he said.

Traditionally accountants were heavily reliant on compliance work, meeting with clients once or twice a year, but technology is allowing them to collaborate on a single set of data in real time and regularly advise people on their financials, Mr Innes said.

As a result, accountants are being forced to rethink how they bill their customers.

“We are definitely seeing a shift to fixed-fee billing,” Mr Innes said.

“Clients are happy with that because they know what they have to pay and they are getting a far higher level of service than they’ve ever got.”

Also speaking to AccountantsDaily, Reckon’s accountants group managing director, Sam Allert, said he doesn’t support the view that accountants are being forced to change; he believes the profession is being presented with a “massive opportunity”.

“I think technology is enabling the accountant, and certainly the progressive accountant, to run the businesses they’ve always wanted to,” Mr Allert said.

“The profession has an unbelievable opportunity to improve the way they deal with clients, process work and add value for their clients,” he added.

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