David Bergstein belongs to Intuit's Accountant & Advisory Group and is a thought-leader in Technology Issues in the Accounting Firm, such as Wireless, Paperless Workflow, Apps, Cloud and Mobile. In 2015, Accounting Today listed him as one of their Top 100 Most Influential People within the accounting profession.
Firms are merging at the fastest pace of any time in the history of the accounting profession. It will continue over the next couple of years as Baby Boomers who started firms choose the merger path as their succession plan. In addition, younger professionals are now breaking away from established firms as they gain their certifications and experience. Firms that have positioned themselves to take advantage of technology will continue grow and emerge as the big winners as the cloud, or should I say mobile, replaces the desktop as the way to be able to collaborate on a continuous basis.
Technology and the deployment of technology will separate the winners and the losers amongst accounting, or as they are becoming known as, consulting firms. The nature of accounting has changed from one of data collection and data entry to data review and consulting. The focus is now on how to improve a client’s process to improve efficiency, profitability, liquidity, and net worth.
Technology now allows for a base operating system such as QuickBooks, Intacct, NetSuite or others, with a vast ecosystem that results in the digital movement of data from the source transaction such as a purchase or a sale. There is no need to create a paper documents. Real-Time analytics with the use of these operating systems immediately lets the firm play above the line as a trusted advisor.
Apps, as opposed to programs as they use to be called, facilitate this movement of data. Hubdoc is a new player that automatically fetches documents, organizes them and actually puts them in accounting systems such as QuickBooks. ReceiptBank, Expensify and such are others to name a few. A great place to check out all of these new efficiency tools is in the AppCenter.
All of these tools automate the process of gathering data and utilizing bank feeds and bank rules by accounting systems. Accountants are now truly able to do what they originally studied to be able to do, which is to offer advisory services instead of compliance services.
This also holds true for IT professionals who no longer have to maintain and support archaic desktop systems. They now manage risk and interface among cloud solutions. Lean Six Sigma is becoming the buzz word of the profession whether you are the accountant or technology person. Everyone is about the “best process” to organize the data so that you gather the insight and make the recommendations to your clients.
Inside Public Accountant just published their list of the “Best of the Best Firms” and implementation of tools and technology is one of the important factors on helping a firm succeed. Firms that survive and grow will need to be agile and the technology we have today will continually change at a rapid pace. It is not about being on the bleeding edge but on the leading edge.
There is a plethora of how-to information on making your firm survive in the future; information such as Intuit’s Firm of the Future site. The AICPA has also published a number of articles on what firms of all sizes should do to effectively change their methodology and move forward. In addition the two main publications that report on the profession (AccountingToday and CPAPracticeAdvisor ) have numerous articles on what firms are doing to not just survive, but to thrive, with many focusing on young professionals that have started their own firms using the technology within the cloud.
In conclusion I suggest that you look at your firm and review the processes and technology that you have in place. If you are still following the phrase word “SALY” (Same As Last Year), you will not be one of those firms that will grow.