As we prepare to enjoy the holiday season, we take a look back at 2016 to explore some of the topics that were front of mind for accountants during the year.
The accounting industry continued to evolve in 2016, as accountants embraced new technologies to help streamline their processes and drive efficiency within their firms. Many have also been thinking creatively about ways to drive their businesses forward so they can keep up with changing client needs.
Here are three big topics that featured in some of our most popular Count Commentary blogs this year – and what they could mean for the future of your business.
Things you should know: Count used reasonable efforts to ensure the commentary in this blog was accurate and true at the time that it was posted, but Count is not liable for any errors or omissions in the commentary. Since the time of posting it is possible that regulatory requirements and laws upon which the commentary were based have changed and the content is outdated. The commentary provided in this blog is informational only and while care was taken in the preparation of this blog, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this blog. Any commentary regarding past economic performance is no indication of future performance and should be used as a general guide only.
1. How to improve your offering
As technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds, forward-thinking accountants are making the most of opportunities to automate their everyday tasks. By freeing up their time, they can instead focus on finding new ways to attract and retain clients.
For instance, some firms are expanding their service offering so they can take care of more of their clients’ financial needs. Depending on the firm, this might include initiatives like incorporating a lending arm into the business or becoming licensed to provide comprehensive financial advice. Other accountants are finding simple ways to add value, like sending regular client newsletters offering industry news and tax tips.
The key is to truly understand what makes your clients tick, and how they can best balance their financial situation against the lifestyle and professional goals. Since accountants are uniquely positioned to understand their clients’ needs better than most, it’s a matter of identifying gaps and connecting the dots to serve your clients better.
2. How to reach out to the next generation
As pre-retiree and retiree clients move into the later stages of their lives, accountants need to focus on securing the next generation of clients. The future success of your business may depend on your ability to tap into the pool of millennials, who will be the wealth accumulators and investors of tomorrow.
To gain a competitive advantage with this up-and-coming client segment, it’s worth expanding your Gen Y client base now, so you can begin forging strong relationships that will last throughout these clients’ lives. But to reach out to the next generation, you’ll need to first understand their communication and service preferences.
For example, millennials are inclined to use their smartphones and other devices to manage their finances and research new products and services online. That means it’s essential for your firm to have a strong digital and social media presence.
What’s more, research shows that Gen Y clients are looking for more than basic accounting services: two in three want a financial coach who can help them gain more control over their money1. By moving beyond traditional accounting, the opportunity is there for your firm to carve out a valuable niche in this space.
3. How to help your clients navigate change
One of the biggest discussion topics across the financial services industry this year has been the upcoming changes to superannuation rules. First proposed as part of the Federal Budget in May, after lengthy parliamentary debate the proposals have recently been passed as legislation.
From 1 July 2017, the cap for concessional super contributions will be reduced to $25,000 a year and the annual cap for non-concessional contributions will be slashed to $100,000. For many clients, these changes could have a negative impact on their plans for retirement.
In the months leading up to 1 July, your clients may need extra guidance to understand how these reforms will affect their financial situation and tax position. Some might also want you to tailor a strategy that will allow them to get the most of the new caps.
Whenever your clients are faced with a regulatory change that will affect them, it’s important to keep them engaged and reassured. By reviewing each client’s financial circumstances and guiding them through their options, you’ll give your clients the confidence they need to make informed decisions.
As we move into 2017, one thing is certain – for the foreseeable future accountants will continue to be faced by new challenges, along with exciting opportunities. Watch this space as we keep sharing insights into how you can make the most of any changes the New Year brings.