The Technology Adoption Challenge Facing CPAs
Joya Tamrakar is an executive assistant at Officense in downtown Baltimore. Her expertise includes providing administrative and operational support to a diverse client base including CPAs, financial advisors, attorneys, and local businesses.
New developments in technology have completely transformed the way we do business. Professionals across a variety of industries are seeing changes in client expectations, office practices, and daily business operations—and the accounting industry is no different. If you feel like you haven’t been able to keep up lately, fear not! We’re here to ease the pressure and help your firm adapt to the new technological climate.
You’re not alone
Keeping up with the latest and greatest in the tech world isn’t always an easy task, especially for a busy CPA. You’re already juggling new client acquisition, existing client cases, and managing the cash flow of your firm. Mix in staying on top of new technology and it’s not too difficult to feel a little overwhelmed.
A recent survey conducted by IFAC Global SMP indicated that the biggest challenges facing small to mid-sized accounting practices are:
- Technology developments (38 percent)
- Pressure to lower fees (48 percent)
The most prominent technological development driving these challenges is the rise of online tax services, such as TurboTax or H&R Block. Many CPAs have felt the heat of competition thanks to the popularity of these services, as they’re not only convenient to clients but can often offer lower rates as well. Plus, thanks to many other technological conveniences that consumers have grown accustomed to, modern CPAs are now expected to provide the same conveniences and 24/7 access as their tax software “peers.”
The solution? Adapt and evolve.
“As new tools augment our profession and streamline certain tasks, accountants will not only have to embrace new ways of working, but take on expanded roles—as data analysts and other specialists,” said Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbart, in Accounting Today. “Being a solo CPA or sole proprietor now means not only being a great CPA, but also requires the flexibility to adopt new systems and the analysis skills necessary to optimize performance.”
Fortunately, there are tools designed specifically for small to mid-size CPA firms that can help you compete with the “do-it-yourself” tax solutions on the market. Some areas prime for optimization and client communications, while others give your clients options to easily pay you with credit, debit, or electronic checks online or in your office. With these tools at your disposal, you can improve your clients’ experience, increase your own productivity, and help even the playing field with larger firms. Let’s examine some of the best of these tools that can help CPAs like yourself.
We admit it. We’re biased. But it’s because we’ve witnessed first-hand how much a virtual assistant can help solo and small CPA firms. Not only do virtual assistants field incoming calls and schedule appointments, but they can also prepare documents, accept payments over the phone, and even scan and forward mail. This frees you up to focus on the bigger picture items while the tedious tasks that eat up your day get taken care of by experienced professionals.
In some cases, virtual assistants can go the extra mile and provide more than just scheduling and answering. The best virtual assistants can also provide data entry and CRM management, taking lead tracking off your busy plate, as well.
Cloud-based document management
Today’s clients enjoy the convenience of being able to access the Internet from nearly anywhere they are with their smart devices. So, why would you make them come all the way to your office to go over important paperwork?
Switching to a cloud-based document management solution has numerous benefits, including allowing your clients to access important files online from a secure location. This ensures their files are safe in the event of a computer crash or cybersecurity event. You can even use cloud technology to collaborate on your clients’ documents in real time, or share files with a colleague, without the need to be in the same room.
CPAs can also increase the speed of getting paid with an online payment solution. You won’t have to wait for checks to arrive in the mail when you accept online credit card payments—you can send out a payment request instantly and your clients can pay you from the convenience of their computer or smart devices.
To make it even easier, you can also set up recurring payments that will automatically charge your client’s card whenever your bill is due, letting you and your client focus on other important tasks.
For anyone in the financial services industry, security is a top concern. Thankfully, the best online payment solutions are built from the ground up to ensure its user’s payment data is kept safe, adhering to a set of standards mandated by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). You can make use of payment portals where your client enters their own payment information, circumventing the need for your firm to store their sensitive information.
To learn more about how CPACharge and Officense can enhance your practice, visit cpacharge.com/partners/officense.