Expansion & Improvement
The business landscape has evolved dramatically in recent decades with the rise of digital services, smarter technology and changing business models. In this new environment, the support required to run a successful company has changed. Compliance and accounts have become increasingly technology-driven, and this raises the question, are accountants still needed?
Jodie McDermott explains the evolving role of the accountant and how businesses and advisors can work together to build valuable relationships that go beyond simple number crunching to help you reach your goals.
Accounting in a changing world
To be clear, accountants are not becoming redundant, but the profession does need to evolve if we wish to remain valuable and relevant to our customers.
Just as the market itself has moved forward, so too must accountants update the services and support they offer. Whereas typically the role of the accountant was focused on crunching numbers and tax, now human elements are equally important, such as advisory, tailored planning and real-time support.
The main reason for this is technology. Software can now perform data entry, transfer and analysis faster, more efficiently and often, more accurately than a human. Provided the input data is correct – which, it must be stressed, is not always the case - producing business accounts can be done quickly and cheaply by machines.
Where does this leave accountants? With compliance and tax increasingly automated, accountants have the opportunity to lean into the uniquely human aspects of the role. These elements have always been there, but they often came second to the necessary but time-consuming work of keeping a business on the right side of the law. Now that much of that work can be streamlined, accountants can use their skills to make a real substantive difference to their clients’ success.
How technology enhances client relationships
Far from automating the work of accountants, new software such as cloud accounting tools, automated analysis and smart data entry have created the opportunity to be closer and more connected with clients. Key advantages of new tools include:
More time for value-add services: automation has flipped the old accounting equation on its head. Instead of spending the majority of their time sourcing, managing and analysing data in order to present it to clients, accountants can spend more time helping their clients understand their numbers and what they mean for their business, goals and plans.
Real-time connectivity: cloud accounting tools give clients and their advisors access to the same data in real-time, enabling closer collaboration and building trust. Clients can see the work that their accountants are doing, while accountants can create value faster, based on accurate, up to date information.
Value-based relationships: as we’ve all learned during the pandemic, conversations are now just a video call away. By using real-time data and modern communications, accountants can provide more agile, flexible support when clients need it. Instead of quarterly calls to chase paperwork or discuss accounts, clients can get support when they need it most, whether it’s workshopping expansion plans or solving a cash shortfall.
Flexible support: the wide variety of modular accounting software available today gives accountants more ways to help than ever. Instead of a one-size-fits-all product, accountants can tailor their services to the needs of their clients, providing a wider variety of services without hugely increasing prices or lead times.
Key advantages of working with an accountant
Many software tools are now designed with business owners in mind to manage their own tax and compliance affairs. For simple business structures such as gig-work or freelance, this can be very practical, especially for those working on a tight budget. However, for anyone looking to grow their business, working with an accountant brings notable advantages:
Expert risk management: While there are many options for doing your own tax, using your allowances and business structures to their fullest extent can be complicated and time consuming. In addition, legislation changes regularly, leaving you at risk of making mistakes, or missing out on opportunities. An accountant ensures you’re always up to date and paying the exact right amount.
Tailored growth support: There are a range of ways to help grow your business, from tailoring structures to protect key assets and raising capital to power growth to incentivising teams with EMI schemes and building valuable partnerships. Your accountant can help you access more opportunities in ways that push your business forward.
Forward planning: While markets can be unpredictable, planning ahead gives you more options to choose from when it comes to making the decisions that matter. By working closely with your accountant, you can align your personal and business goals with your financial plan to maximise flexibility and minimise risk.
Specialised advisory: Accountants work with thousands of businesses and so can offer an informed outside perspective to help you see through the range of options available in front of you. This can be especially useful for owner-managed businesses, where more responsibility sits directly on the owner.
Pick the right partner for your business
The best accountant-client relationships are built on trust, knowledge, and alignment, so it’s essential to find an advisor that understands not only your business, but also how to use the market, technology and incentives available to help you succeed.
At Haines Watts, our team in Oxford pride ourselves on making our clients’ goals our own and using our decades of experience to help you reach them. We’re always updating our processes and services to ensure they’re relevant to you, using the latest tools to bring us closer to our clients and the future you want.
Get in touch with us to find out how the right support and guidance can help you build the future you want.