“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” – Alan Watts.

We are living in a fascinating time where there is unprecedented, fast paced change. Some of the change is disrupting industries that were possibly relaxing in their comfort zone, Uber has shaken the Taxi industry, Airbnb the accommodation sector.
Accountants and small businesses who relax in their comfort zones and do not embrace new technology are likely to fall behind their competitors.
One area we have seen significant disruption is accounting systems using cloud based technology. Xero is one of these cloud based applications. The advantage of cloud based technology is that it provides accountants with up to date information on our clients by utilising real time data feeds.

This opens up the opportunity for accountants to provide better advice to clients and new service opportunities based around business advice. One of the most common criticisms of accountants is that they do not provide enough advice, with information now being live there is no excuse for this.

New technology means accountants should be providing services that are “forward looking” and not just recording the past for our clients. We need to adopt an attitude of exploring new technologies that are available and provide services to our clients based on these.
There are a number of services we can now provide because of the real time information that we now have on our clients:

• Benchmarking
• Margin Analysis
• Trending
• Predicting future performance

One of the resistance points with adopting cloud based technology is the client and this usually revolves around data security. I find it interesting that we trust the same internet security enough to perform bank transactions yet are concerned that someone might hack our accounting data. The point is that it is the same security protocols yet this still seems to be a resistance point for some clients to adopt better technology.

With the move to cloud based accounting packages there has been a change of mindset of clients and a tendency to keep their books up to date (ATSA survey 2014). This is great for the client and creates the opportunities for accountants to provide the services that I have already mentioned. To capitalise on this we need to regularly review our clients up to date files to capitalise on opportunities.

CONCLUSION
I still believe that compliance work is not going away anytime soon and will remain the mainstay of accounting practices for some time. But if your practice is not embracing the new technology and providing additional services there is a real danger you will go the way of the dinosaur. Other accountants will be leaping on these opportunities and providing better advice and services to clients.

If you are a small business and your accountant is not providing you with business advice based on up to date information maybe it is time to change accountants.