The Future of Accounting: Four Tips to Add CAS and Meet Modern Client Needs
The accounting profession is undergoing a major transition as client expectations change. “Clients are more knowledgeable, aware, and demanding today,” Bill Carlino, Managing Director of Whitman Transition Advisors LLC, says. “They want the firm they work with to provide as many services as possible.”
This includes client advisory services (CAS), something the accounting industry has been talking about for years. Firms that don’t evolve and add CAS to their offerings are going to fall behind, especially as traditional tax prep, experts warn, has a relatively short window left before it becomes automated.
Below we share four tips for accounting practices to meet the needs of modern clients and future-proof their businesses with CAS. To learn more insights and advice from experienced professionals, and to read real-life stories of firms that have made the transition, download this whitepaper.
Tip #1: Know Your Audience
Today’s clients are tech-savvy and demand a broader range of services beyond tax prep and audit. Bill cited one client who wanted the CPA firm to help with penetration testing and malware prevention—things you’d associate with IT rather than accounting. While this example might seem a bit daunting, it shows how clients want their CPAs to evolve.
Tip #2: Master the Right Technologies
You need the right tech to effectively deliver client advisory services in your accounting practice. Transitioning to the cloud provides enhanced security and accessibility. Building a streamlined tech stack with solutions tailored to your niche also gives you the tools to provide high-value guidance. As services get automated, your expertise in using technologies becomes a competitive differentiator.
Tip #3: Adopt a Partnering Mindset
Rather than just being a service provider, modern accounting firms need to approach clients as strategic partners invested in understanding their goals and guiding their growth. That’s what Geni Whitehouse, Founder at The Impactful Accountant and President of the Information Technology Alliance recommends. “When you start approaching clients like partners, the work won’t feel burdensome to either of you,” she says. Taking time to ask clients about their priorities and ideal outcomes lays the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Tip #4: Take Deliberate Steps to Evolve
The time for hesitation is over. When asked if tax prep and audit were on their way out, Geni quickly said yes. “It’s not far out now that that will happen. Automation is happening right now. There’s not much to the tax side; we’re not adding much value. [Traditional tax prep] has a relatively short window left.” So, what should you do? Evolving successfully doesn’t happen overnight. Start by conducting an internal audit to decide which clients, services, and tech stacks align with your goals. Consider taking your firm virtual to expand your market reach. Absorb insights from firms ahead of you in the transition. Then take deliberate, methodical steps to shift towards the advisory services modern clients want.
Future-Proof Your Firm with Client Advisory Services
In our eBook, “How to Evolve Your Tax Firm into a CAS Practice,” we provide many more practical insights from accounting leaders who have successfully transitioned their firms, including solo practitioners. While the profession is changing rapidly, firms that take proactive steps guided by client needs can adapt and thrive. The time to start future-proofing your practice is now.