Four choices facing accountants in 2023

Four choices facing accountants in 2023
From staff shortages to not accepting new clients and compliance and security risks: accountants have to deal with some major challenges this year. They want to serve their clients well, but they also want to be an attractive employer where staff likes to work and will continue to work. Firms that do not want to fall behind are therefore facing a number of important choices in the near future. However, there are also a lot of opportunities that allow accountants to stand out from the crowd. Wilco Kraaij, Product Line Director Accountancy at software company Exact, has identified four choices accountancy firms will have to make in 2023 to remain successful or become even more successful.

1. Choose your clients carefully

A smooth process between the client and the firm is key to successful collaboration. Previously, the client came first in the process: the client decided how they collaborated with the firm. In practice, this demand for customisation regularly led to more difficult processes, even though saving costs and time are the highest priority. Modern firms are therefore taking control by adopting a clear strategy for their collaboration with clients. In concrete terms, this sometimes means making the difficult choice to end their relationship with certain clients. They are streamlining the processes for delivering and approving documents with smart software and automation. They follow one clear strategy to ensure a streamlined and efficient customer experience as well as a pleasant user experience.

2. Choose strong relationship management and advice

Automation and smart dashboards help accountants and their clients to work efficiently and make the right decisions every day. And yet there is one crucial aspect that isn't governed by technology and data: their relationship with the client. Entrepreneurs appreciate personal contact with a sparring partner who pays attention to them as a person and actively contributes to their long-term vision. In an increasingly data-driven world, accountants can truly differentiate themselves by focusing on strong relationship management and personal contact. Make sure that the administrative processes and year-end reporting are automated as much as possible. This allows you to really develop and manage your relationship with your clients and make time for specific (tax) advice that will improve their bottom line.

3. Choose fixed prices

Clients, who are often entrepreneurs, want standard services at standard costs. They don't like the sense that the clock starts ticking every time they ask a question. They want a complete package of services that includes personal attention at a fixed price. This matches the needs of the accountancy firm: staff shortages are forcing them to operate with fewer employees and therefore with fewer billable hours. A fixed revenue model that is supported by a streamlined digital system offers a solution. It gives your firm a more predictable income flow and the client will appreciate the clarity, making it a win-win situation for both the accountant and the client.

Your accountancy firm should therefore opt for fixed prices in terms of both your income and workload. Working with a fixed revenue model offers your employees space and time to do what they like best, which is putting entrepreneurs first. And because you create that space and time, you remain an attractive employer. In times of staff shortages due to the ageing population and the increasing workload due to a rapidly growing number of entrepreneurs, this is not a luxury for your firm. Because of the staff shortages, you are unable to grow your hours (and individual invoices), but you can grow your value.

4. Don't choose compliance and security

This paragraph's heading may sound a little misleading, but is still true. That's because compliance and security are not choices: they are conditions for responsible collaboration, operation and entrepreneurship. Accountants – and their clients – can no longer make concessions in this respect. Everyone's been there: you don't want to work in different systems, so because it's the easy thing to do you quickly send a document to your private email address, for example. By merging communication flows and systems in a simple way, you can make secure compliance and collaboration easy. And that's important, because users' opinions will make or break a solution. This applies to collaboration within the firm and with clients. For example, if data is stored centrally in SharePoint rather than in different applications, you will work on one project with version management and you can guarantee its completeness far better.

Finally, in terms of security, the firm has the important task of informing entrepreneurs – who regularly fall prey to cybercriminals – of the security risks. This is to protect them, but also to secure your own organisation. Most ransomware attacks are unintentionally initiated in companies' immediate environment. For you as an accountancy firm, that is the clients you provide your services to. Fortunately, people are more and more aware of the security risks and there are digital tools to protect you. Your firm should therefore consciously select its software platforms and make your clients and employees aware of the security risks. This gives you the ammunition you need to excel in 2023 and to focus on what really matters: your clients, your staff and your business.
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