If you look at what the future of accounting looks like it’s more than just a digital disruption story. It’s how we as a nation of business builders will need to react to the impact of globalisation and its increasing impact over the next two to three years. I believe we can leverage technology and ensure that Australian business punches above its weight – both at home and on the world stage. We must move away from the focus on the lower cost of goods, impact of free trade agreements or larger economies on our borders and instead innovate our offerings for the future.
Building a successful offshore customer base
Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) now have an exciting growth opportunity to extend their offerings into a borderless economy. But to succeed internationally you need to be prepared to create the necessary offshore relationships, deliver on the goods and services, invoice your clients and collect the revenue. Selling into a new marketplace magnifies the day-to-day challenges of running a business. It’s vital for entrepreneurs that are infinitely excited about ‘disruption’ to understand they need to fund it.
Accountants here ideally should be playing a critical role with their clients – helping them define growth strategies, understanding what is needed for investment and funding plans, suggesting how to access working capital – basically building a strategic plan and helping them execute. This includes ensuring there is sufficient cash coming into the business to fund the appropriate expansion required – and moderating the investment into the business in line with actual cash flow. It is one thing to sell into an existing marketplace however selling into a new marketplace magnifies the business challenges.
Collaborative accounting relationships
It’s about time professional accountants inserted themselves into this dialogue and reminded clients of the plan to succeed. And it’s something that can be done well as I believe that the regularity of the conversations professional accountants have with clients here in Australia, which leads to how well they know their client’s business, is in fact more consistent than in some other global economies.
It’s the first plank towards collaborative accounting relationships, and if you combine it with real-time information cloud-based accounting solutions and the insights this can provide, it is easier to make valuable decisions together.
Building a practice to manage the future
Even with digital disruption, the basic tax and accounting services, such as compliance, will still be in play with clients and form part of our service revenues in the future.
So, we can look at how best to build a practice to manage the future. For many accountants, it is not natural to ask outside of their own firm or industry for advice but collaboration is the new networking. Business today is more complex and collaboration with professional experts – and ones that you have easy access to – can benefit your client base.
Here is how to future proof a practice against the impact of digital disruption and changing economic boundaries. The partner or partners of the firm need to be clear about what business they want to be in and what business their clients want to be in:
- Develop strategic plans for your firm. Take the time out to build the absolute clarity into goals for you and your team.
- Who needs to be part of this firm or network to achieve this? If the time is right to integrate business consultants and legal contacts into your offering – do it. Remember collaboration is the new networking.
- Decide who you want on your journey. What sort of talent does your firm need to deliver on the services your clients need? Wolters Kluwer research for the past six years has shown that by a long way the accountant remains a trusted adviser for SMEs. But importantly those same SMEs have pointed this out that they would like us to play that role. Is your firm delivering?
- Be open to assessing and reviewing the technology platforms and solutions that will be required to either survive or thrive during a time of transformation between professional accounting firms, clients, regulatory authorities and technology developers.
Krista Moore | Director, Marketing and Communications, APAC, Wolters Kluwer
With two decades’ experience in transformational technologies, Krista today leads a team of marketing professionals charged with empowering accounting firms to maximise technology and business outcomes.