Harness the Remote Advantage: How 2020 Events Have Helped Accounting Firms Become More Resilient, Adaptable and Futureproof
I think we can all agree with pundits, podcasters and the authors of hundreds of popular memes circulating on social media that 2020 has been a pretty dismal year. We’ve seen social unrest, economic upheaval and a wide-ranging public health crisis.
And, surviving and thriving throughout these events hasn’t been a cakewalk for accountants and tax preparers. A significant majority have been impacted by downstream effects of pandemic-related business closures and the subsequent economic downturn.
Roughly 73% of the respondents to one recent survey of CPA firms say they anticipate annual revenues for 2020 to fall at least 10% short of their goal for the year. And, nearly all (more than 90%) respondents to another industry survey reported experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety along with feelings of emotional overload.
However, you can leverage what we like to call the “Remote Advantage” to help simplify your practice management and improve your bottom line.
Short-term Pain = Long-term Gain
The good news for accounting firms is that short-term challenges can be a catalyst for lasting positive change. Enduring a period of crisis can fundamentally reshape your employees’ habits, beliefs and ways of working. As we’re already seeing, accounting firms will emerge from the events of 2020 stronger — more adaptable and more resilient — than ever before.
These benefits are accruing more quickly for firms that have already embraced cloud technologies; it’s been easier for them to navigate the rapid transition to remote work. But, it’s relatively easy for late adopters to catch up. Since cloud-based practice management software can be rolled out quickly, its biggest advantages — smoother operations, improved productivity, and greater client satisfaction — will become apparent almost at once.
Even if your firm is not planning to follow in the footsteps of tech giants Twitter and Facebook by completely shuttering physical offices, it’s possible to realize many of the biggest benefits remote work can bring simply by adopting the technologies and operational processes that make it possible.
5 Reasons to Move to the Cloud
Here are five of the chief advantages that firms stand to gain from embracing cloud-based accounting technology:
Free Your Employees From the Burden of Paperwork
There’s a popular stereotype that accountants spend more of their time doing paperwork. Today, this is changing but it’s still true that CPAs and tax preparers tend to rely more heavily on paper-based workflows than many other professionals. Reducing your firm’s reliance on paper not only can save time and space. It also makes it possible to keep better track of workflows, reduces manual errors and improves productivity.
Reduce Operating Costs and Slash unnecessary Expenses
In the past, operating procedures in accounting firms were ad hoc and informal, which led to redundancy, inefficiency and waste. With cloud-based practice management software, your firm will have a single source of truth for everything from project status to client contracts, employee time-tracking, billing and payroll. Once you have this information in hand, it’s easy to see what’s contributing most to the firm’s profitability – and to eliminate activities that aren’t.
Exceed Your Clients’ Expectations
By mid 2020, people were spending more time online than ever before, and demand for digital services reached an all-time high. Today’s accounting clients greatly appreciate the convenience of being able to check tax status from a web portal or supply e-signatures on documents. If your firm can offer these types of services online, your clients will value your accessibility and flexibility, and you’ll benefit from their increased loyalty and trust.
Contribute More Value to The Businesses
Among accounting practice areas, firms have seen the greatest growth in the demand for strategic advisory services over the past year. As small business owners have struggled to navigate the new relief legislation, interest in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act consulting and business continuity planning has soared.
Naturally, accountants working in firms that rely on software to assist with lower-level administrative tasks will enjoy increased efficiency and find they have far more time to spend on these higher-value activities.
Grow Revenue by Offering More Profitable Services
Not only are CPA firms that offer a broader suite of strategic advisory services able to contribute more directly to the health and growth of their clients’ businesses, but they also can boost their own revenues.
According to one recent survey, accounting firms that introduce strategic advisory services into their mix of offerings can increase monthly client revenues by as much as 50%.
More Reasons to Go Remote
These are significant benefits, but they’re just the beginning. Want to learn more about what your firm stands to gain from adopting the technologies that enable remote work? Download our free eBook “The Remote Advantage” to explore these ideas in depth.