Accountants see the biggest potential impact of technology as the ability to offer new services to clients. This was revealed in a live poll during a Modulr hosted event.
The digital event was hosted by Lea-Jane Baird, Product Manager at Modulr, who was joined by a panel of accounting and technology experts:
- Richard Sutton, Head of Accountant Relationships, iwoca
- Ross Murray, Director at Acumen Accountants and Advisors
- Kuba Zmuda, Chief Product Officer at Modulr
The experts discussed the landscape of financial technology and which new tools can have a major impact for accountants and their clients.
Accountants want to offer new services enabled by technology
We asked audience participants where they think the biggest opportunities of technology lie for accountants. The top response was the opportunity to offer new services (31%) to clients.
The experts agreed that technology can play a major role in helping accountants to add more value to clients, especially in the current environment.
“Cloud technology is where everything is going,” said Ross Murray, Director at Acumen Accountants and Advisors. “There’s cloud-based software for bookkeeping, cashflow forecasting and practice management. The biggest impact of these tools is the ability to gather and process client data quickly and easily.”
“When combined with automation, this frees up time for accountants to offer the advisory services that today’s clients are looking for, instead of just helping them with tax returns.”
“Fintech is all about customer intelligence data and being able to act on those insights in real-time,” said Richard Sutton, Head of Accountant Relationships, iwoca. “In the fintech landscape there’s a wide ecosystem of apps that accountants can adopt. If they can do that seamlessly, it saves a lot of time - but it also helps them to build deeper relationships with clients.”
Unlocking the potential of Open Banking and automation
The discussion then turned to the opportunities offered by Open Banking and automation, and what role these solutions can play in accountancy.
“Open Banking has been great for the industry,” said Ross Murray. “It allows you to connect your bank account to your bookkeeping system and provides access to more accurate data. Traditionally, you would have to manually enter each line from a bank statement which leaves a lot of room for error. With Open Banking, there’s no mistakes when pulling through transactions.”
“By combining this up-to-date information with payments automation, accountants can offer a fully outsourced finance function to clients that are growing fast but can’t afford to have a full-time finance director. This is very attractive to businesses as they get the benefits of having a finance director without the cost.”
“At iwoca, we were one of the first lenders to offer Open Banking tools to our customers,” said Richard Sutton. “Accountants are often involved in helping clients put forward loan applications, and sometimes have to wait weeks or months for a decision. By using fintech lenders like iwoca they can apply in a few clicks. And with Open Banking, we can access up to five years of trading data, which allows us to instantly see the evolution of that business and where it is today.”
“In the current climate it helps us understand the severity of the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses,” he added. “We don’t need to ask for the information – we can see it all in real-time. Open Banking is playing a major role in helping us serve customers right now.”
How to make a success of digitalising your practice
The experts agreed that driving cultural change is an important factor when implementing new technologies.
“You should assess the digital products you want to use and do your homework on them. You need to choose the right ones for the way you want to work, now and in the future” said Ross Murray.
“There’s hundreds of solutions out there and it can be easy to get lost,” agreed Richard Sutton. “Narrow it down to a few core areas that you want to focus on – for example payments, funding and cashflow. Ideally you want to be passionate about 4 or 5 key tools.”
“Getting buy-in from your employees and clients is also key,” said Ross Murray. “Otherwise it’s like trying to push water uphill. You need to communicate a clear vision of what you’re going to do, why you’re going to do it, and how it will make people’s lives easier.”
- What the experts think accountancy will look like in 2025
- How to make a success of the technology implementation process
- Which skills will be most critical for accountancy practices of the future