We often talk about how important it is for accountants to make use of current and emerging technologies, and to keep up with digital trends.
The past few years have seen some major changes in the role technology has to play for accountants and what their clients expect from them.
In our latest insight report, we decided to dig into those changes, looking at shifts in accounting technology, digital marketing and communications, as well as the challenges SME clients face.
Above all, our report showed just how important digital skills and practices are to your clients and potential clients: 88% of SMEs agreed that having an accountant who understands technology is important and two-thirds would pay more for a ‘tech-savvy’ accountant.
Based on what we found, we’ve listed a few practical ways you can use technology to enhance your practice and the services you offer.
Make more use of accounting software
For many accountants, the core of their digital operations is their accounting software. Online accounting software, in particular, has surged in popularity over the last decade, making it easier for accountants to automate their work and collaborate with their clients.
Our research found the use of this software is still on the rise, with 37% of the SMEs saying their accountant had increased their use of online accounting in the last 12 months.
We also found a generational trend, as younger clients were more likely to work with accountants who used online accounting software.
If you haven’t already made the move to online software, now’s the time to switch – and if you have done, are you making the most of its features?
The more you can automate, and the more seamlessly you can integrate your software with other platforms, the more time you save for what’s really important to your firm.
Manage your practice and your clients
Beyond day-to-day accounting tasks, software can also make it easier to manage your practice as a whole, and your client base.
Practice management software can automate a range of tasks relating to the overall running of your practice, from time-tracking and to-do lists to file sharing and internal comms.
This offers several benefits for accountants: improved efficiency, the flexibility to handle back-office operations remotely, easy integration with marketing campaigns, and more.
Customer relationship management software, meanwhile, specialises in the client side of things, storing valuable data and recording and automating your communications.
Connect with clients in new ways
As technology changes, so do the ways people communicate. Where you might once have been limited to emails, phone calls or in-person meetings to speak to your clients, it’s increasingly common for accountants to use other options, like video calls or instant messages.
That said, our research suggested the more traditional forms of communication are still popular. In fact, emails came out on top, with 59% of SMEs preferring their accountant to contact them this way.
The key is to understand your clients’ preferences, and plan your communications based on that – choosing the appropriate channel for the message you want to get across.
Download the report:
The digital accountant: Is your firm behind the curve?
The results show whether accountants really are getting the most out of technology and leading the way for their clients.
Boost your marketing strategy
Finally, there are several digital marketing techniques that offer great potential for accountants to effectively target and attract their ideal clients.
To start with, your website should be the centre of your digital marketing strategy. It’s the first place someone will find if they search for your firm online, after all, and it’s the place you’ll be directing people via your social media channels.
Your website needs to be more than a ‘shop window’ for your firm – it should make it crystal clear to prospective clients who you are, what you do, and why they should work with you.
Creating and sharing content such as blog articles, guides or videos can be a good way to both bring people to your website and show your knowledge. After all, 58% of the people we surveyed felt it was important to see evidence of expertise on an accountant’s website.
To learn more about the results of our research, along with practical tips for your firm, read our full report: ‘The digital accountant: is your firm behind the curve?’.