After decades of relative stability and standardisation in working practices, the world of accounting is encountering a period of transformation. Clients want access to information and advisory services on demand. New regulations centred around ‘Making Tax Digital’ mean processes are mandated to be digitised.
To remain relevant, practices need to enhance their services to be more advisory based as opposed to compliance only (which should be fully automated where possible) whilst managing an increasing reliance on technology to remain compliant and satisfy client expectations.
All three drivers have one thing in common, the seamless access to compliant, tailored and relevant information on demand. A capability hampered today due to back-end systems that are siloed, outdated and poorly integrated.
The traditional accountancy practice is hindered by a legacy of overly manual processes, underpinned by outdated, siloed systems that fail to provide the insight required. Such legacy working practices increase the administrative burden on both accountants and clients alike, with repeated data requests and conflicting solutions being required to provide the secure data exchange demanded.
This means that accountancy firms will struggle to satisfy the UK Government’s regulatory drive towards the digitisation and automation of book-keeping services without increasing the dependency on clients to provide required data in the format required. Accountancy firms that fail to embrace this change will face an increasing service gap and faltering client experience.
As we surge into the digital age, accountants are generally motivated to make a change. There has been a cultural shift, where we are seeing firms leaving behind traditional practices, and embracing more efficient tools to manage data and make processes easier. An efficient and quality service to clients is important to accountants, which is making more and more firms realise that they need to move forward with technology.
Built on Microsoft Dynamics, we have created a front end portal for clients to enter their information, which then triggers a robot to input that information into the back end system, for the accountant to then pick up and interact accordingly with the client. Practice Gateway removes the need for a middle man – the accountant no longer needs to collect all the information from their client, chase them 2-3 times with emails to get the relevant information, and then spend hours manually entering the data into their systems. This solution is built so that the client can put in the information themselves, and then the robot will mimic the tasks that typically the accountant would do, so chasing records, reminding the client, typing in the data, etc...
Effectively we are using the robots and the pool of resources to mimic what people do, so the client can do more. There may be some worry from the accountant that clients may see this as a way of asking to charge less, or that their jobs will be taken away. But essentially this isn’t about replacing humans or making services cheaper. The future of work is that the basic tasks will be done by one resource, meaning high level tasks can be done by the accountant.
It’s not about paying less, but about driving the relationship between client and accountant. It’s important for the accountant to deliver a quality service to their client, and being given the time and resources to do so will change their relationship for the better.