Here’s a recap from the only independent technology event focused on accountants in practice (ATSA 2015) and our some of the key insights into the future of the accounting industry.
The future is mobile
Google’s keynote began the conference on this note and it remained one of the reoccurring themes throughout ATSA15.
It makes sense. Google says the vast majority of web searches are conducted on smartphones, and of the 500+ in attendance for the keynote, nearly everyone in the room had a smartphone on their person. According to Google, ‘We don’t go online. We live online.’
What does this mean for accountants?
It’s critical for accountants to be online and have a mobile-friendly website. Earlier this year, we let our newsletter readers know that Google will be ‘punishing’ websites that are not mobile-friendly with significant drops in search results.
The push toward mobile also means that accountants can start seeing more mobile-first solutions from accounting platforms such as Xero, MYOB and Intuit. These accounting systems and SMSF platforms are also opening up their APIs so that third-part plugins can integrate in the cloud.
Less compliance, more advisory
Compliance fees are compressing, which means it’s becoming easier and easier for accountants to outsource compliance. This leaves accounting practices looking for a way to boost the bottom line.
Many presenters at ATSA15 encouraged accountants to focus on expanding their advisory services. In the CEO panel discussion it was commonly agreed that products are facilitators to conversations with clients so accountants can deliver advisory.
An interactive SBR
Goodbye ELS. The ATO says its vision for its Standard Business Reporting (SBR) platform is to have an interactive data exchange between accountants on behalf of clients and the ATO.
With the SBR replacing ELS in 2016, accountants should start seeing some cool features released in the coming months, such as dynamic form filling inside of their accounting software.
Barriers to cloud technology
According to the official ATSA 2015 survey, while more and more accounting practices are switching to cloud accounting platforms, the biggest barrier to go paperless is refusal of some individuals within the practice.
This underscored another key point: that education and buy-in from staff within accounting practices is crucial to cloud adoption.
Likewise, accountants wishing to move their clients to cloud accounting applications face clients’ reluctance to pay and lack of confidence in cloud systems; further demonstrating the importance that accountants, as trusted advisers, must educate their clients about the benefits of the cloud.