Accountant-client relationships feeling tech strain

While technology brings many benefits and efficiencies, accountants must now work a lot harder to maintain good relationships with their clients, according to the executive director of one tax firm.

The cloud and other technology solutions are continuing to pick up momentum and become mainstream, according to Anderson Tax executive director Debra Anderson.

“It's been happening for quite a while, but I do think that a lot of the people that are slow to take it up have now even dabbled in it this year in the accounting area,” Ms Anderson told Accountants Daily.

“I think the one thing that happened in 2016 was if you did not touch cloud in any way shape or form, you're now one of the exceptions rather than the rule.”

However, while technology can bring many benefits it can also put a strain on relationships between accountants and their clients, according to Ms Anderson.

“I think [technology] brings a challenge to accountant-client relationships because the one thing with cloud is you're tempted to do it remotely,” she said.

“I used to be on-site with clients five days a week. These days I’m certainly nowhere near that and so I do find that it's more important; we actually have to try harder to maintain those relationships than we did.”

Increased technology use often correlates with a reduction in client touch points, Ms Anderson said.

“That can be a challenge because people do business with people they like, people trust you because they get to know you, so it's important that we have more touch points.”

Ms Anderson said she has implemented an ‘email about nothing’ philosophy in her business to help clients feel looked after.

“I might be working on their stuff remotely, using cloud and technology, but they may not have heard from me, whereas in the old days they wouldve sat with me or I would’ve sat with them and we would’ve done things together,” she said.

“So it’s just to let them know that theyre not forgotten and [to establish] more touch points.”

 

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