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How to Stay Competitive in the Age of Automation

Accounting is rapidly changing, and it's time for your practice to adapt. Here's how you can stay competitive in the age of automation.

1 min read

Micala Ricketts

Micala Ricketts

Barry Melancon, President and CEO of AICPA, and Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, Chair of AICPA, spoke about the rapidly changing nature of the accounting industry a few weeks ago at AICPA ENGAGE. During their presentation, Melancon stated that up to 40 percent of accounting work will eventually become automated or eliminated by technology.

“We live in extraordinary times, and we need to evolve as a profession,” he said.

That forecast may seem daunting, but it doesn’t mean that your days of accounting are over. It does mean, however, that there’s a need for you and your practice to adapt. Here’s a look at three ways your practice can stay competitive in the age of automation.

Offer New Services

You already have a loyal client base that you see at certain times annually for a particular service. But what if you started offering those clients more services throughout the year?

If you only offer tax preparation, consider adding tax resolution. If you offer a variety of tax preparation and resolution services, consider adding financial advising. Chances are you have enough knowledge and resources available to expand your services—you just need to tap into them. The more you’re able to offer your clients, the more valuable they’ll find your services, and the less likely they’ll be to replace you as competition rises.

The more you’re able to offer your clients, the more valuable they’ll find your services, and the less likely they’ll be to replace you as competition rises.

Embrace New Technology

At times technology may feel like the enemy, but it shouldn’t. If you choose to take advantage of technology rather than fight against it, the possibilities for efficiency become endless. New technology offers some amazing opportunities, so why not put it to work for you? One of the best ways to ensure your business flourishes in the face of automation is using automation to expand your business.

One example is using a client portal to communicate with your clients. Portals have come a long way and are now highly secure, functional tools. Instead of conducting an endless string of emails and phone calls, you and your client will be able to share documents and information at the click of a button from anywhere with internet access. You won’t have to wait as long to get their information, and your client won’t be inconvenienced during their busy day either. More efficient communication means happier clients, and happier clients mean better business.

New technology also allows you to more easily offer additional services to your client base. Canopy’s tax resolution product for example, provides assistants that help you choose the best path and outcome for each tax resolution client based on their unique situation. Canopy does all the number crunching and automates form filling for you, saving you hours each week. With all your time savings you can take on more cases, help more clients, and make more money.

One of the best ways to ensure your business flourishes in the face of automation is using automation to expand your business.

Recruit Staff Members with Next Generation Skills

With the rise of automation and many accounting practices embracing the cloud and offering new services (including your competition), you can’t afford to remain stagnant. As you recruit new staff members, look for accountants who have next generation skills that can boost the flexibility and efficiency of your practice to help give you the edge over automation.

According to a survey conducted by Robert Half, modern accountants will need to learn to become strategic advisors, have a good grasp on technology, and develop soft skills alongside technical ones. If you hire new recruits who already fit the mold in those areas, you’ll be several steps ahead of the practices trying to play catch up.

Plus, if you have a few staff members who are well-versed in those areas, they can always help teach the rest of the team. Setting up in-house training is a great way to hone skills across your practice.

Modern accountants will need to learn to become strategic advisors, have a good grasp on technology, and develop soft skills alongside technical ones.

Want to dive into expanding the services you offer? Check out How to Start Offering Tax Resolution Services.

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