2015 is right around the corner, and with it comes the promise of a better, brighter future for your firm. Studies show that the accounting industry is undergoing dramatic changes–future success will require creativity, innovation, and predictive insight from those in the field. The good news is, now is the ideal time to make your move! By being proactive about embracing emerging tech and evolving practices, your firm can thrive in the new year and beyond. Here’s how to get started:
1. Avoid a 2015 meltdown. Think ahead when closing your books.
When closing out the fiscal year, there are a few extra steps you can take to ensure the next year goes a little smoother than the last. First, while Congress has extended certain expiring tax provisions until October 2015, you should take this time to familiarize yourself with upcoming changes to the tax code. Perhaps most important are those pertaining to the Affordable Care Act, which your clients may still be struggling to adjust to.
And speaking of clients, as you close your books, make note of anyone who had a habit of being late with required documents. (Or worse, with payments!) While the onus should be on the client to provide information in a timely manner, keeping track of those who wait till the last minute now can help prevent a crisis during the busy season. Make timeliness and ease of communication a part of your year-end checkup for the health of each account. If a flakey, combative client has made your holidays miserable, remind yourself to start hounding them well before April!
2. Don’t procrastinate–automate. Fully manage your expenses in minutes each week.
We’ve found that, on average, 40% of transactional accounting is spent on Accounts Payable, with half of that time spent processing expense reports alone. Unlike static payables such as rent or utilities, expenses vary from period to period. This means that expense reporting traditionally requires regular and time-consuming data entry. Not only can this lead to miserable overtime hours, but potential clerical errors as well. Fortunately, the face of expense management has markedly changed in recent years. Tallie automates the entire expense report process, from point of sale to the balance sheet, preventing errors and fraud before the report even reaches an accountant’s inbox. Our research shows that Tallie users save an average of 67% of time spent on their expense reports. Other users say that they’ve gone from wasting several hours on their expenses to having their reports submitted and approved in under a few minutes.
To procrastinate is human. Unfortunately, the only thing less appealing than facing a week’s worth of expense review is tackling the entire month’s at once! While it may be tempting to put off certain tasks until the end of the season, consider how much agony you’ll save by spending just 15 minutes per week approving expenses, reconciling accounts, and keeping abreast of any unexpected changes to your books. You’ll thank yourself at the end of the year! Not to mention, you’ll set a good example for clients who may otherwise be tempted to procrastinate getting YOU the info you require.
3. Embrace new technology. Delegate busy work.
No, not to your assistant. Busy work such as manual data entry and bean-counting isn’t just a waste of your time, it’s a waste of your entire firm’s. That’s why more and more CPAs are relying on automation, apps, and other tech to do that work for them. According to a study conducted by CPA.com, accountants must learn to embrace emerging technologies, and fast, if they wish to keep up in the marketplace. If you’re intimidated by the idea of disruptive technology in your industry, consider this: Most CPAs who now take advantage of accounting software like QuickBooks Online and Xero couldn’t imagine limiting their work to Excel documents. And even those accountants who still refuse to move beyond their spreadsheets would most likely balk when asked to trade in their PC for a pen and paper.
Disruptive technology is changing the industry faster than many accountants feel they can keep up, and only 10% of those surveyed by CPA.com claim to think of themselves as innovative. However, the study also suggests that those who adopt the latest tools and best practices will have a tremendous advantage over competitors in the coming years. There is an entire, thriving ecosystem of accounting apps and services that will automate your expense reports, reconcile your books, and even help prevent fraud. Not only will adopting these technologies save your firm time and money, it will also make you more attractive to clients. A study published by the Sleeter Group found that nearly half of small- to to medium-sized businesses want their accountant to be proactive about new technology. However, that same study found that only 20% of accountants are meeting that need today. That’s where you come in!
4. Don’t just predict the future–create it yourself.
Now is the time start being proactive about major shifts in the accounting industry. Feeling a little behind? Make small (but significant) changes, like replacing your offline accounting system with one in the Cloud. Since so many new accounting tools are linked, updating even one aspect of your workflow will open the door to automate or otherwise improve others. And if you need advice, you don’t need to look any further than social media. Another benefit of an online, global marketplace means constant, easy access to your peers, regardless of rank or “who you know.”
Rather than struggle to “keep up” with emerging technologies and industry changes, consider 2015 a fresh opportunity to lead the charge. Use automation, the Cloud, and online collaboration with your peers to create value-added benefits that will set your firm apart. Reflect on which services of yours you want to enhance, and which are holding you back. By performing higher-level and more specialized accounting, you’ll make yourself indispensable to clients.
Remember that being “Future Ready” isn’t just about making your job easier, it’s also about fulfilling clients’ changing expectations. Regardless of whether or not you embrace new technology, odds are that your clients will, and they’ll be looking for someone equally prepared for a changing market. As you make a fresh start in 2015, sit down with your current clients and get an idea of the kind of firm you’d like to create for them. This is your opportunity to grow your practice in ways that didn’t seem possible before. There’s no need to fear the future–with your experience and willingness to learn, you can create stable, lasting success for your firm for years to come.
How can Tallie help future-proof your firm? See for yourself with a fully-functional free trial – no credit card or commitment required. Our experts can show you which features will work best for your business. Contact our team to schedule a free Tallie product demo at any time.