As featured on Alternative Insights and their series on The Client of the Future, Lauren Parker-Mitchell, Head of Sales & Marketing at T-Tech, considers the business challenges faced as the client base changes in the Accountancy sector and offers suggestions on the approach the sector can take to provide the client of the future the much sort after valued-added advisory services…
10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next ten years. As I allow that thought to drop. I am considering the business challenges the accountancy sector faces as their customer base flourishes with Gen X, millennials and now the centennials coming up the ranks! So how does the accountancy practice of now ensure they are ready for them?
Challenges of the changing client base
There are three areas that stand out for me when talking about the challenges posed by the changing client base in accountancy: –
Time vs output: old ways of working take time that the new world client is not willing to pay for. I see more and more cloud accounting providers coming out of the woodwork, offering fixed fee services, with simple to understand pricing and services. The client of today is comfortable with subscriptions, but they are price savvy and no longer as loyal as the clients of old would be.
Accounting vs Advisory: The future client expects the books to be done as standard, but they value the advice and guidance on the nuances of accounting that they cannot get from a google search. Client experience is key, this is part technology, part relationship. The solution is mostly technology, as the tech enables the relationship in terms of giving time back to the people and how the client interacts with the firm.
Data management: Regulation and client experience are driving the need for data management to be seamless. Legacy systems, disparate applications and siloed partner led teams are not seamless!
Innovating around the client experience
Data management is key to innovating around the client experience. I see this all being driven by adopting technology, for Data Management, using tools that are currently available; Microsoft, Cisco Umbrella and Datto have great solutions. These big tech companies are spending billions of dollars to ensure security stays tight, they enable collaboration in a much more user friendly way than previous solutions, and are permitting a new way of working (remotely, device agnostic,). In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense anymore for clients to build custom software or pay to have expensive tech resources in house. Outsourcing these non-revenue generating activities makes sense. The world of technology is too vast and complex for internal teams to be able to reasonably keep up with this alone. My advice is to let someone else do the lifting!
For the Time and Advisory challenges, using collaboration tools effectively will deliver some time back to people so they can spend more time on value delivery. But the real game changer I see here is getting on with AI related technologies. AI, chat bots and RPA are vital for not only user experience but also internal processes, data management and giving time back to staff to add the valued advisory services.
It will take a little time and effort to set up the AI platform, but no more than is already spent on recruitment and training and it will deliver a wealth of benefits across the firm. A Virtual Worker solution, for example, can unpick many of the current challenges faced by accountants. Virtual workers can adapt across functions, work 24/7, are 100% accurate and do not take tea breaks!
AI doesn’t need sophisticated back end infrastructure and it doesn’t need to completely shift how the firm operates today. A firm can get its feet in the door of AI without huge outlays, establish the right foundation for the firm to evolve the business models of the future and deliver meaningful results.