There is a great divide in the industry about how accounting firms are planning to tackle the changing environment. On one hand you have the firms who are actively embracing financial advice into their offering and one the other you have firms who are standing by what they have done for the past 20 years – compliance and tax work.
So what does the accounting firm of the future look like? Listening to the industry murmurs and experts, more and more we are hearing that adding financial advice and other higher value added services is the way to ensure your business remains relevant.
Preparing for future success
Chris Ridd, Managing Director of Xero said that "anything that can be automated will be", and we are seeing it now with tax e-lodgements and do it yourself bookkeeping services. Accounting firms need to start preparing their business for future success and become:
Client focused – knowing your clients is essential to provide personal strategic advice. Form relationships, understand their business and what drives and motivates them.
Active social listeners − following clients’ social activity is a good way to learn about what they’re thinking and doing. Find out what matters to them so that you can relate to them.
Thought leaders − tweets, blog posts, articles, speaking engagements, firm roundtables and any other way you can think of to get in front of your clients with topical subjects and expert opinions.
Technologically advanced – always looking at new and emerging technologies, and implementing smart and strategic technology investments.
Cloud enabled and virtual – no offices and no server room. Leverage mobile and digital devices, and implement cloud accounting.
Harnessing talent to take your business to the next level
The light bulb moment has happened for many firms, not just in the accounting world, that the best way to grow your business is to focus on identifying and managing talent. Everyone is unique and has a unique skill set. Look at the talent you already have in your business, and make the decision to up skill the right staff – the ones you think adapt best to change and can take on other consultancy roles within your firm. Succession planning is also very important. Managing the retirement of senior staff to ensure that your firm benefits from fresh ideas and leadership is essential to the long term success of your firm.
Adapt and survive
Diversifying your offering beyond the traditional compliance scope and offering financial advice and a range of other consultancy services is going to ensure your clients are more engaged on a more frequent basis. These additional services create additional revenue streams to help future proof your business.
You should be working to create a persona for your business. What attracts and retains your clients are the firm values, practices and the service that you offer. Building this will ensure you are best placed for the future.
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