The accounting industry is all about numbers and there has never been a more perfect opportunity for accountants to help their clients with more meaningful numbers.
Running an accounting firm has never been more challenging. Stephen Sedgewick’s ongoing inquiry into the ‘spot and refer’ proposition could have a serious impact on accountants acting as commercial referrers. This will require a necessary rethink in terms of their approach to seeking additional revenue streams. As changes to this model are more than likely inevitable, accounting firms will need to broaden their approach and reassess how they help their clients with their lending requirements.
New technology has also had a significant impact on revenue and margins from more traditional accounting, tax and auditing services. The emergence of accounting software providers such as Xero and MYOB means tax returns and simple accounting practices have been digitally disrupted. So how can firms adapt to these changes and better service their clients in order to future-proof their businesses?
An integrated accounting and lending offering
Integrating the complementary disciplines of accounting and lending offers firms the growth potential and resilience to overcome the above challenges and build a sustainable business which can thrive into the future.
Accountants have strong relationships with clients and tend to be key influencers when it comes to client spending decisions. Despite this, many are missing the opportunity to source finance on their clients’ behalf.
For businesses who require complex tax, structuring and finance advice, a holistic service provider with accounting and financing service under one roof can be very attractive. For transactions which involve dealing in multiple assets this is especially the case, with an integrated team able to collaboratively advise clients on the right approach from both a strategic and tax perspective.
Win-win for all
A deep dive into such an integrated alliance reveals a raft of benefits for accountants and their clients.
From an accountants’ perspective, it means more revenue per client. By forging a partnership or bringing a lending specialist into their business, accountants can meet more of their clients’ financial needs – leading to better client retention and a long-term relationship that’s hard to beat.
For clients, a more holistic offering can lead to better outcomes. Today’s clients are typically time-poor, and an integrated accounting and lending practice can enhance the speed and ease of transactions. With all of a customer’s data (whether financial statements, tax returns or trust deeds) secured within the one firm, significant efficiencies can be created by reducing the need for multiple inputs, paperwork, phone calls and meetings.
Furthermore, as the financing service market has grown, clients are overwhelmed with choice and rely on their accountants for professional service provider recommendations. It simply makes sense for accountants to leverage their strong client relationships and offering them a wider range of services.
Forward thinking approach
Change has always been the constant in the accounting industry. Forward thinking firms are starting to realise that the recent wave of regulation and digitisation have the potential to shake up their traditional and additional sources of income.
We are already seeing more accounting practices move to an integrated approach, providing the value addition of financing advice and origination, and expect this trend to continue.
Brendan Wright is the CEO of FAST Aggregation Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of NAB Group. Many FAST finance brokers have successful referral relationships with accounting firms and can help accountants offer a broader range of services to their clients. To find out more about how FAST can help your business visit www.fastgroup.com.au/numbers
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