The digital firm: where is accountancy going?

silhouette of man holding binoculars on mountain peak against bright sunlight sky | The digital firm: where is accountancy going?
By Jim Scott | 24th November 2022 | 4 min read

Frankly speaking, I consider accountants to be the guardians of the economy, acting as shields for businesses across the country.

Part of what makes accountants so special is their ability to interpret the latest legislative changes, keeping their clients compliant. Just think, without accountants, how many businesses would struggle or fall foul of new rules and regulations?

However, one area I’ve found that accountants often struggle with is adapting their own ways of working in order to unlock the power they have in other areas beyond compliance.

I had the pleasure of attending Accountex North last month, and during one of the sessions, when asked how many firms believe they are digital, incredibly few members of the audience raised their hands.

Sitting in on some truly fascinating discussions got the cogs turning in my brain; I’ve pondered where our industry is going and what firms can do to stay at the forefront.

Becoming a human firm

The adoption of software within accountancy has seen a rapid increase over the last few years; as a result, using modern technology is no longer enough to be the sole differentiator between you and other firms.

In a sense, the industry is going full circle, and now to stand out, firms should also prioritise being more human.

Customer story: Flexible software for the modern accountant

Read here

But what does more human even mean? Essentially, to stand out in the crowd, added focus is needed on the aspects software can’t handle – empathy and emotional intelligence.

With total company insolvencies in England and Wales reaching the highest quarterly level since 2009, it’s clear that added care and support are needed.

Of course, software still plays a huge role, as it’s required to free up the time needed to prioritise the human aspect.

Automate work and streamline processes, then reinvest that time in doing what technology simply can’t – caring for your clients and helping them through these testing times.

Prioritising a mindset change

Are you making the most out of your software?

The evolution of software that serves the accountancy practice has been relatively swift – new software to deal with previously manual tasks can fundamentally transform the way firms operate.

But benefits are only attainable if the underpinning processes within your firm also see change; implementing new software is half the battle, as you and your people also need to alter your mindset when approaching tasks.

For example, having fantastic automation and workflow capabilities means little if you’re still relying on manual data entry.

Having software will only give you back time if a conscious effort is made to change how you work.

For those struggling with integrating their software into their day-to-day, I’d advise you to reach out to your supplier, as most will be able to offer training and support.

If your adoption issues lie with staff not embracing the new processes, read our recent blog on change management here.

Why go digital?

For many, the burning reason to digitise relates to Making Tax Digital (MTD).                                                                                                                                       

Without a doubt, MTD is a major factor, being one of the biggest changes the industry has seen, but it shouldn’t be the only reason you’re considering digitising.

Outside of compliance and better processes, consider how your clients will also benefit from processes being digital.

Smoother interactions mean more satisfied clients; happy clients equal happy employees.

New podcast: creating a digital practice

The move to becoming a fully digital practice isn’t easy, but it’s essential; while requiring initial work, the change ultimately benefits both clients and staff alike.

I was recently joined on our ‘AccountedFor’ podcast by our Head of Market Insights, Steve Cox, where we delved further into what it takes to create a digital practice.

The accountancy sector has seen a wave of new, tech-savvy, market entrants that are threatening the bread and butter of more established practices. We explore this phenomenon and delve into how practices can evolve, adapt and embrace change to compete.  

Listen to the episode here.

IRIS Elements: looking for next-generation accountancy software? Trial our industry-leading software, IRIS Elements, to see how the integrated, MTD-ready solution can support – learn more here.