In the last decade, a silent trend has been sweeping through the Australian accounting industry. It’s a small switch that has seen some impressive results. In fact, it’s now so popular that while only one quarter of Australian firms were doing it 10 years ago, now more than two thirds of our industry claim to have jumped on the bandwagon.
And it’s no surprise, since firms that are making the switch are seeing perks like 15% improvements in job turnaround time and 75% reductions in senior review times.
The secret to efficiency
What’s this secret key to efficiency? Outsourcing the production and maintenance of your firm’s compliance workpapers: in other words, subscribing to a third party workpaper provider.
Cutting the cost of compliance
As accountants, you know that efficiency = money. Indeed, increasing efficiency is the perhaps the quickest and simplest way to increase profit—easier than growing, adding to your service mix, or the mysteries of sales and marketing.
Speeding up compliance means it’s going to cost your firm a lot less. It’s up to you what you do with the extra resources.
There are 5 key time savings that can result from outsourcing your compliance workpapers.
- Building and maintenance
Save employee time not having to build and maintain a full set of workpapers, always updated and accurate (legislation and rates change each year)
- Review time
The assured accuracy of outsourced workpapers, as well as their firm-wide consistency across the firm, make the review process by senior accountants a very brief one. Indeed, we’ve seen firms cut senior review time by as much as 75% simply by introducing a standardised set of subscription workpapers.
Your workpaper providers will include training on how to use new or updated workpapers and templates, meaning your team will receive efficient, specialised instruction and save employees having to conduct the training in-house.
- Trial balance and ledger data
The right workpaper solution (such as Smart Workpapers by Business Fitness) allows your trial balance and ledger data to flow automatically through to your compliance workpapers, which means you won’t have to manually re-key data, no matter what system your clients use. We don’t need to tell you how much time this is going to save you!
- Risk management
With highly accurate and constantly updated content, you’ll spend less (or no) time preparing for audits and reviews, and reduce your firm’s dependence on key employees.
With the efficiency benefits so clear, the compliance workpapers you source externally (assuming they’re priced reasonably) will almost always pay for themselves—often multiple times over.
Believe it or not, this is where we encounter the most queries from accountants. Though it’s hard to argue against saving money, many accountants equating cutting costs with cutting fees—but this doesn’t have to be the case, especially with rising popularity of fixed-fee arrangements.
Additionally, many partners (and employees) wonder what they’ll do with the extra time, or if they’ll run out of work. Yet this extra capacity can be useful for many pursuits, especially that of adding more value-add services into the mix.
Either way, making compliance work more efficient will only yield positive results.
The comprehensive data we publish every year in the Good Bad Ugly has revealed that, while compliance isn’t dying (sorry, spruikers), it is certainly taking a backseat. In the last 10 years, the percentage of revenue brought in by compliance has fallen by 15% due to firms offering a wider range of services in response to client demands—and it’s trending even further down. Firms that continue to rely on compliance services for all or the majority of their revenue are leaving themselves in a risky position.
The solution? Make compliance a priority, but do it as cheaply and efficiently as possible.
Now’s the time to make the switch
Outsourcing your compliance workpapers may seem intimidating, but there’s a reason it’s risen in popularity so dramatically over the last decade. Never in the history of our industry has it been more important to make your compliance cheaper, quicker and of a higher quality. With the new financial year fast approaching, if you still haven’t made the switch to outsourcing your compliance documents, now’s the time to consider it.
About Smart Workpapers by Business Fitness
The workpapers of choice for 10,000 accountants across Australia, Smart Workpapers by Business Fitness are the smartest choice for compliance work in our changing industry.
Our latest release of 2017 Smart Workpapers and templates cover all your firm’s compliance needs and include trial balance and ledger integrations to MYOB, Xero, APS, Class Super and Intuit.
Head to www.businessfitness.net/workpapers or call 1300 333 424 to find out more.
Brad also co-ordinates the annual benchmarking study “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Australian Accounting Profession.”
In his spare time you will find Brad in the backyard playing cricket with his two boys.
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