Early technophobes thought the printing press would never last, and people were sure they would get an electric shock from a telephone before it became a staple in every household. We can laugh now, but we often find ourselves skeptical of innovation that comes our way as well.
Do you see the increasing use of automation, artificial intelligence, and other new technology and wonder what it might mean for your business? Anxiety surrounding adopting new technology is a tale as old as time. Unfortunately, if you hesitate to adopt new technology, you could find yourself on the outside looking in as others leap ahead.
Words like “metrics”, “data”, and “analytics” can cause clients' eyes to glaze over instantly. Learning how technology can bridge the gap of understanding can help empower accountants to get over that fear. If data can be harnessed and utilized, accounting professionals can better identify strengths and weaknesses in businesses and improve growth.
The accounting industry is growing and evolving. The amount of data available has increased exponentially over the years. Taking advantage of this evolution gives accountants and bookkeepers the power to do more for their clients. When precise financial measurements are used to harness and utilize data, accounting professionals can better identify strengths and weaknesses in their clients' businesses and improve the services they offer to their clients.
Benefits of Using Technology to Enhance Your Services
Below are six ways you can instantly improve your practice.
1. Use Visual Reports
You can see and understand your clients’ data, but it doesn’t help them if you can’t translate what you know for them. Help your clients to see the data as well as you can. Use visual reporting software to create a financial story that speaks to your clients. Your options range from a product like Microsoft Power BI to a solution like Reach Reporting.
In a recent case study with Pam Jordan, CEO of Pivot Business Group, Pam shared that there was a major disconnect between deliverables and client understanding. She said, “Pivot would send the P&L and balance sheet but the client rarely looked at it because they didn’t understand the rows and columns of numbers.”
After implementing software that automates the creation of highly professional and customizable visual reports, Pivot’s clients were “more engaged in their financials because they finally comprehended the numbers and asked questions.”
Studies have shown that 75% of the information taken in by the brain is from visual sources. Using informative visuals in your reporting not only creates a more engaging product but it increases your client’s ability to process and retain the new information as well.
2. Save Time
When you hand over part of the workload to automation, you’ll free up extra time you and your team can use to refine current services or to pour energy into financial advisory services. Letting go of some of those tasks might feel a little scary, but when you see how efficient and accurate that technology can be, you won’t look back.
Automation can improve efficiency as it reduces errors and speeds up processes. Automation simply removes the grind of punching numbers to produce reports each month, a process even further enhanced by using a solution with customized templates.
3. Look for New Ways to Use Data
Learn to dig deeper for more meaningful data and find new ways to use that data for your clients’ benefit. Big data is becoming increasingly vital to accounting firms. In fact, the number of firms relying on big data is expected to double in the near future. Don’t wait for this trend to become the norm before you get on board. Build up your firm’s ability to effectively analyze key data to become a strategy whiz for your clients by creating customized metrics to analyze your client's specific goals and needs.
4. Improve Entry-Level Coaching or Advisory Services
The industry is evolving, and accountants need to provide more coaching and advisory services for clients, or they’ll be left behind. With artificial intelligence, firms have access to advanced analytics and data analysis that can help them give clients more personalized strategic input.
Accountants and bookkeepers can expand their coaching and advisory roles for businesses while allowing technology to take over time-consuming tasks. When firms use automation to sort through massive amounts of data and produce real-time results, their accountants and bookkeepers are empowered to be better consultants and financial advisors.
More data, better financial analysis, and increased efficiency lead to happier clients. When accounting professionals have more time to focus on consulting with clients, they are able to give better, more personal advice. Clients are happier with the product, and chances are the providers will enjoy embarking on the financial journey more with their clients. Helping businesses succeed and grow is a win-win.
5. Give Real-Time Information
We live in a world with 24-hour news channels, email on the smartphone in your pocket, and apps that will get food delivered to your doorstep in minutes. Other industries have evolved to provide people with instant gratification.
The accounting industry should be no different. Leveraging automation and artificial intelligence connected to financial data means you can create custom financial measurements for your client and share it with them instantly. This real-time information means your clients have the relevant information they need to make decisions for their business.
6. Encourage Value Pricing
It’s no wonder more firms are moving from an hourly billing model to value pricing. Clients love the services you are providing them, and they love knowing exactly how much those services will cost. And it is becoming much easier to shift to value pricing when thought leaders like Joe Woodard tell you exactly how to get your clients to value your services.
Technology makes it easier to make that switch, as it becomes easier to estimate the costs of the services you are providing. Automation enables accounting professionals to spend less time on back-end work and devote more energy to entry-level coaching services or advisory services.
As you work to switch your clients to value pricing, you can show them that what they are getting for their money is you - your knowledge and your expertise. They understand they aren’t paying an hourly rate for important but time-consuming tasks that are now being handled by automation.
Are you ready to learn how to put technology to work for you?
The future of the accounting industry is bright, and what you can offer to your clients is more powerful than ever before. There is more data available to you and technology allows you to use that data to transform your business for the better and add value to your clients' businesses.
Learning HOW to put technology to work is vital. The longer you postpone using technology to put data to work for your clients through entry-level coaching or advisory services, the further behind you will be.
On May 4th, I am teaching "Financial Measurements Essentials", a one-day Power Day designed to jumpstart this new service for your practice. During the Power Day, you will gain an understanding of the skills and tools you need to provide your clients with “operational intelligence” rather than just the usual monthly financial reports they neither open nor understand.
You will learn a simple process for adding significant value to their decision-making while generating an average of about $500 per month per client for your efforts. And...this course will equip you to prepare for each client meeting with less than 30 minutes of prep work!.
I hope you can join me for the May 4th Power Day for a full day of instruction and dedicated Q&A time to help you deploy this service to your clients.