5 Simple Tips to Modernize Your Accounting Firm
5 Simple Tips to Modernize Your Accounting Firm
Modernizing your accounting firm can feel intimidating at first, but it’s easier than it seems and can lead to bountiful benefits for your business. From facilitating excellent client relationships to streamlined processes, modern methods can simplify your work day and lead to greater returns in the long run. In fact, 92 percent of US accountants say that new technology is delivering value to their business, so you’re not alone in considering new options.
If you’re interested in learning how to run a modern accounting firm, we’ve got five simple tips to help you get started.
1. Go Paperless
Going paperless can help you foster a modern accounting firm and reduce waste across the board. According to the EPA, paper accounts for 90 percent of all office waste, with the average office employee using about two pounds of paper per day.
Plus, paper documents can be a strain on your resources in the office, in more ways than you might expect. Bill.com reports that paper checks cost a business up to $24,540 annually, when factoring in employee labor, bank fees, and postage. Storing those documents can take up valuable office space, and locating a single document in a stack of hundreds wastes valuable time that could be spent elsewhere.
Easily begin the shift to a paperless office by tackling internal documents and processes first. Start with paperless billing for office utilities, internet, and other regular monthly expenses. Digitize expense reports, instead of creating physical copies, by scanning or taking photos. Request to receive receipts by email wherever possible.
From there you can shift your external correspondence and paperwork to paperless options, like electronic signatures and downloadable onboarding documents. Let your existing clients know in advance that you’re converting to a paperless office, and give new clients a paperless experience from the start.
2. Invest in a Practice Management Solution
If you’ve digitized your documents, consider investing in a practice management solution for the rest of your firm’s operations. You’ll have better control over nearly every aspect of your business with practice management software, including expense tracking, task management, timesheets, and more. Not only will you not have to waste time on tedious and repetitive administrative tasks, you’ll gain a better understanding of every aspect of your business. Some premium solutions even offer dashboards and reporting tools that show you the most current information, so you’ll always know where your business stands and have instantaneous access to everything you need, all in one place.
Additionally, practice management solutions often offer client portals where your clients can upload necessary documents and securely receive important documents like tax forms and contracts. This expedites your processes, as you no longer need to mail physical documents to clients and wait for their return. This also eliminates the need for your clients to take time out of their day to travel to your office to pick up or return paperwork.
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3. Optimize your Onboarding Process
Creating an excellent client experience from the very beginning is necessary, as this cements a lasting positive impression of your business and impacts your business’ growth. The first interaction can set the tone for the rest of the engagement and influence whether your client decides to stay or pursue other competitors. One of the ways you can foster a positive first impression is through a smooth onboarding process.
Start by establishing a standard checklist and timeline for your team, and assigning roles and responsibilities to specific employees. Consider using software that integrates with your online calendar and allows your clients to find and reserve appointments, so that the meetings are automatically added to your calendar. This way, the process involves less back and forth and frustration.
4. Upgrade Your Data Security
Unfortunately, financial services firms are often among the most popular targets for cyberattacks. Keep cybercrime at bay with a secure cloud storage service that properly protects your clients’ data. Cloud storage technology protects sensitive information from external threats like malware, and also retains copies in case of hardware failure. Even if all your computers crash at the offices, your data will remain protected and retrievable.
Also, it’s wise to Implement internal security measures, such as requiring cybersecurity training for all employees. Set clear rules and expectations with employees on computer use and data security. Ensure all devices on the firm’s network are kept up to date with the latest security updates and immediately remove any terminated employees’ access to sensitive information by revoking user permissions.
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5. Online Payments
One of the best ways to modernize your accounting firm is by adopting online payments, so that clients can pay virtually with a credit card, debit card, or eCheck. Instead of being restricted to in person transactions with cash or mailing a paper check, your clients can send payments securely and instantly from anywhere at their convenience. This greatly reduces the steps they have to take in order to make payments - steps like acquiring envelopes and stamps, drawing cash from their bank account, or traveling to hand over checks in person.
Research indicates that virtual payments are steadily becoming the norm, and that the convenience they provide matters greatly to consumers. Between July 2020 and March 2021, the use of online payment plans grew by nearly 50 percent, and 84 percent of consumers say the ability to pay their bills by credit card is either “nice to have” or “must have”.
You’ll also be able to send invoices with a click, and even set up automatic recurring payments. The transactions will run automatically, giving you more time to focus on growing your business or enhancing your clients’ experience while you maintain a steady cash flow.
Set yourself up for success by modernizing your accounting firm. While it can seem daunting, you’ll find it’s simpler than you expect, and can lead to benefits beyond just quick payments. Your business will continue to grow for years to come as it’s better poised to handle the inevitable continuing changes in the accounting industry.
Discover how CPACharge can help modernize your firm. Schedule a demo today!