Clients demand real-time accounting.
By Chris Frederiksen
It's been was another good year for accountants, with demand for services continuing to outrun supply, thus allowing for price increases.
Firms continue to struggle with the issue of finding enough “good” people to get the work done, so we observed two simultaneous trends.
One was the hiring of more inexperienced people with good computer and IT skills who could be trained to do things the firm’s way; the other was the inexorable rise of outsourcing (or "offshoring" to be more precise), both in the tax preparation arena, which has always been the principal pain point for accountants, but even more so in the bookkeeping/accounting arena. The Philippines showed major gains, with a well-educated workforce speaking a close approximation of American English.
Small and medium-size firms have recognized that the future of compliance for business clients would have to incorporate controllership and chief financial officer services (what I have dubbed CCFO services) and it was time to get serious. The new technology including SaaS-based cloud, automated bill-payment systems (such as Bill.com) and expense recording without keypunching (such as Receipt-Bank) allowed CCFO services to be hugely profitable. Firms have turned $10,000-a-year clients into $10,000-a-month clients.
Now, a huge number of firms are finally “getting it.” We’ve been talking about the firm of the future for long enough and now it’s upon us. Firms don’t want to wait any longer because the requisite technology is already available and they are seeing the gains being made by full-service, low-price competitors like inDinero.
Firms are acknowledging the disruption that is hitting the industry – clients are demanding real-time, up-to-date, in-the-moment information 24/7 at a reasonable price. The challenge for firms is getting clients to move away from desktop to online SaaS technology, which is inevitable but painful. This is the tipping point – it’s not just the early adopters who are on board, but the regular adopters are getting there too.