Do you want to know how you can embrace technology and use it to your advantage?
Gusto is here to help you thrive now and in the future. We partnered with CPA Academy to cover how technology has changed accounting and what that means for you. The webinar “How to Minimize Tech Stack Disruptions to Your Clients and Your Firm” featured accounting expert Martin Kamenski.
Martin Kamenski is an expert CPA specializing in the creative and entertainment niches. The associates at his firm, Revel CPA, have an empathetic, down-to-earth, friendly approach to client relationships that’s a breath of fresh air in the industry. He’s proud to help writers, fashion designers, musicians, creative agencies, restaurateurs, and more with their accounting needs.
This article will cover how technological change impacts accountants, taking advantage of the opportunity presented by technology, and how to embrace technology at your firm. Let’s get started!
How technological change impacts accountants
Martin led his presentation with a reflection on change. In the words of Bob Dylan, “There is nothing so stable as change.” How have you been feeling about changes in the accounting industry? Whether you’ve been grappling with the automation revolution, the shifts toward advisory, or a reimagining of the role you’ve identified with for years, it’s normal to feel unsettled. Change is rarely comfortable.
“Maybe feeling like you were thrown into change gave you some anxiety, elevated your heart rate a little bit, maybe made you cringe, maybe [made you] tense up a little bit. I think it’s important for us all to recognize that as humans, that’s probably most of our natural response to being thrown into change.”– Martin Kamenski
Taking the time to notice and accept your responses to change is the first step toward supporting your well-being, which is essential to your personal and professional success. Trying to ignore it isn’t a great strategy. As Martin explained, change doesn’t even have to feel unexpected or out of your control to be stressful. Just think about some of the changes you or your firm made a conscious choice to enact. Chances are good that there were moments that felt disruptive.
Technological changes are some of the biggest ones sweeping the industry, and they come with their own particular set of challenges. From navigating new systems to forging new relationships to mastering new skills, integrating new technology has a big impact on your energy level, focus, and attention. It’s also no surprise that the shift to tech is stirring up feelings of anxiety and worry about keeping clients, making money, or even staying employed. While there are solutions to these fears, they still create stress. Uncertainty can take a toll on your mind and body, making it very important to mind your mental health.
One antidote to this stress is to remain focused on the positives. It’s a good idea to stay clear on the advantages of the tech changes sweeping the profession. Not only will you be able to capitalize on opportunities more quickly, but you’ll also gain a new perspective that can give you more motivation, enthusiasm, and desire to embrace change.
How to embrace technology and take advantage of the opportunity
Firstly, technology can help you become a better advisor by increasing your efficiency and that of your clients. By partnering with a platform to automate tasks, you’ll tap into the increased scope, speed, and accuracy that automated accounting achieves. This means the results you produce will be more reliable, and you’ll be seen as more reliable by your clients.
You’ll also be able to step up your services. With less time spent focused on crunching numbers, you’ll have more time to interpret reports, put them in the correct context by taking into account your client’s unique needs, and inform clients to take the most appropriate actions for them. You’ll help clients anticipate and avoid problems, reduce time wasted on error or complacency, and forecast with more accuracy.
“A part of advisory means going beyond the process of just sharing results [and spitting back numbers to your clients. It’s] actually getting [outcomes and reports] to help solve problems, to help [clients] perform differently or better, and a big opportunity you’ll have is to take advantage of changes in technology, [such as] new things that appear on the market that could help your client.”– Martin Kamenski
As an advisor, you’ll want to become the expert in the platforms your clients want or use the most. You have the opportunity to guide them to the solutions that work best for their businesses. You can also demonstrate how the efficiency they’ll achieve using tech is well worth the hassle of starting with a new platform. If you position yourself this way, you’ll be an indispensable resource for clients looking for their perfect solution.
Develop expertise and relationships
On the other hand, you can capitalize on the tech revolution by forging alliances with tech platforms. As it’s become clear that automated platforms can’t thrive without accountants and vice-versa, it’s in your best interest to strengthen that relationship.
“This is a new and burgeoning trend we see in technology. … [We see] vendors and tech companies wanting to engage with accounting firms, wanting to create and spur partnerships. [They realize] that we’re going to grow together, and they’re as invested in helping [their partners] grow as they are in their own process. So it gives you that chance to align yourself with vendors that are interested in those things.”– Martin Kamenski
Automated accounting excels in all the areas you would expect it to — speed, scope, and accuracy. When it comes to math and sheer numbers, machines will win every time. But machines can’t put issues into the appropriate context, identify a company’s more complex goals, or provide leadership. Those are for the advisor.
As Martin shared, more and more companies are recognizing the inevitability of this partnership. Now is the time to capitalize on this opportunity and align yourself with the partners who will help you grow in the future.
Streamline your processes
When it comes to technology, more is definitely not better. As systems evolve, find ways to pare down, cut back, and simplify your systems. Consider how easy it is to get overwhelmed by emerging platform after emerging platform. If you try to take everything on, you’ll be fighting an endless uphill battle.
“This picture may seem familiar to you. It might’ve started with some folks using QuickBooks, … and then somebody says, ‘Oh, I’ve heard about Xero. I want to use Xero for [this project.]’ … [So you say,] ‘Okay. We’ll take on some Xero clients.’ … And then … somebody says ‘What about Sage?’ [You think,] ‘I guess I can go learn a new system now and try to develop some kind of expertise in it in a pretty short order.’ And then lo and behold … someone comes around who wants to use NetSuite and Peachtree and Wave and FreshBooks and Zoho and AccountEdge.”– Martin Kamenski
It’s all too easy to say, “yes” to every new system that’s brought up in an attempt to please your clients or your team, but by doing so, you’ll find yourself with–and paying for– way more software systems than you know what to do with. You’ll also need to train your staff on these systems, develop guidelines for when to use which ones and for which client, and keep up with constant updates. Instead of doing all of this, choose a few to become an expert in.
“A lot of the time, when we help our clients solve these problems, we’re often also looking at things that impact our own business and can help us streamline our processes in our firm. One huge way you could do that, for example, is by ending the days of using every tool under the sun.”– Martin Kamenski
Market yourself to clients as an expert in a specific technology, and if you can streamline to one versatile platform that easily integrates with other systems, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Learn more about embracing technological changes
Change is always stressful, but keeping the positives in mind makes navigating it easier. Be ready to make the most of every opportunity that tech brings, whether it’s better strategies for helping your clients or ways to improve your own processes. Technology gives you the ability to increase efficiency, master new platforms, forge alliances with key vendors, and streamline your client’s processes.
Gusto’s mission is to create a world that empowers a better life. We’re committed to helping you evolve your role, connect to the right resources, and leverage the best tools as you move forward. For more on embracing technology, check out our other two articles based on the same webinar: “How to Advise Your Clients During Technological Changes” and “Navigating Technological Changes in Your Accounting Firm.”
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