3 Expert Tips to Create a Modern & Efficient Accounting Firm
Each year, respected experts and reputable organizations in the accounting and finance professions take note of trends they expect to see going forward. While in some cases, their predictions might differ slightly, this year, there’s one major focus they’ve almost unanimously agreed upon: Most accountants are thinking about growth. This includes attracting and retaining new talent to expand and add skill sets to their teams. It also includes considering the expectations of future clients, as well as adding and developing new services.
While all of this might seem overwhelming, the best place to start is to make your firm more efficient. In this article, we’ll talk about why efficiency is key to achieving your goals, what a modern, efficient accounting practice looks like, and actionable tips that will help you take your firm to the next level.
Why Efficiency is the Key to Growth for Accounting Firms
Simply put, efficient businesses maximize their resources by finding ways to: better utilize their time and money to increase their profitability, improve their service offerings, and streamline their operations. Let’s take a deeper dive into the specific ways making your practice more efficient will benefit your accounting firm:
1. Minimized wasted time and money
Inefficiency results in a lot of waste, both in terms of time and money. Accounting firms with inefficient processes often schedule lots of meetings to determine project status and spend time chasing clients around. It’s frustrating for you, your staff, and your clients. By improving your workflow process, you’ll cut down on the time spent on tasks like these and handle them better, and you’ll reduce your expenses.
2. Increased profitability
Cutting down on extra, unnecessary costs and reducing wasted time results in more revenue that can, in turn, be used for profit-generating activities like expanding your offerings to include higher-level services. These services will bring in more revenue, leaving you additional time to take on more clients and thus increasing your bottom line.
3. Improved client service and satisfaction
Modern clients are looking for accounting firms that are digitized, well organized, and make things as easy on them as possible. By making technology a part of your workflow, you’ll create efficient onboarding processes, streamline document storage and client collaboration, and encourage firm growth. As John Coleman, CPA and Owner of Commonwealth Business Services explains: “Using a document management system has really allowed us to keep adding tax clients without having negative impacts on our ability to serve them efficiently.”
4. Healthy work-life balance and employee experience
By increasing your firm’s efficiency, you’ll be able to improve your own work-life balance and that of your employees. Automating tasks that formerly took hours to manually complete will leave extra time for both you and your staff to spend more time with family, take vacations without feeling guilty, and feel less stress, all of which improve productivity and boost morale. Automation will also result in talent retention: Recent accounting grads have noted that monotonous, repetitive tasks and the grueling hours expected during tax season were both turn-offs when it came to staying at their accounting jobs. Becoming more efficient will cut down on tedium and punishing hours and thus make your firm stand out as a great workplace.
Part of making your accounting practice more efficient is creating consistent processes – in other words, when you and your staff come in each day, they know exactly how the firm runs, what their priorities are, and what you, the firm leader, expect of them. This also helps when a new employee is onboarded: They’ll be able to hit the ground running, and you and your team will avoid wasting valuable time trying to explain chaotic workflow processes to them that may be difficult to understand and, worse still, lead to errors. You’ll also avoid spending time on repeating training sessions that could be cut down by simply having a workflow that everybody understands and adheres to.
3 Steps to Improving Efficiency at Your Accounting Practice
1. Transition to the cloud
Transitioning to the cloud offers a number of significant advantages for accounting firms looking to stay competitive, including increased security, better client collaboration, and easier, safer access to important documents. It eliminates the cumbersome, time-consuming paperwork, frees up your time to offer higher-value services to your clients, and makes it easier for them to securely communicate with you and access their documents and other important information. In fact, a study of over 1,000 accounting and finance professionals found that 62% reported switching to cloud-based technology improved their business, client collaboration, and their bottom line.
2. Automate monotonous, time-consuming tasks
Sure, some aspects of technology are still controversial, but automation isn’t one of them. Automated software lets you work smarter, not harder, by taking over old-school accounting tasks that used to take hours, caused massive amounts of stress, turned off new hires who were seeking more exciting, cerebral work, and prevented accountants from expanding their businesses and increasing their profits. Automated software easily integrates with the cloud, as well, reducing the need to mail or call clients in to hand them paper documents that could easily be lost or compromised. Automation will also reduce errors, thereby increasing satisfaction, help you retain top talent and use their skills to grow your business and free up your time to spend more time helping your clients by offering tax and financial advice.
3. Improve communication with clients and staff members alike
An efficient, well-organized workflow is easier to explain to your clients and staff. Your clarity and effective leadership will help build long-lasting relationships based on trust with employees and your clients. Because the workflow is clear and supported by secure, user-friendly technology that keeps everything in one place, it will be easier for your clients and staff to collaborate and communicate. Strong relationships with the people you work with not only reduce frustration and turnover, but also make people feel more relaxed and more receptive to advice.
Building a modern, efficient firm requires the right tech. Streamline the way you collect source documents, organize client data, and share files by using a secure, branded client portal, built for accountants and accounting firms. Get started with a 15-minute SmartVault demo today.