Today’s business climate requires more skills from your accountant than ever before.
In the past, small businesses would typically only employ a bookkeeper to handle their basic finances. As these businesses grew and their financial needs became more sophisticated, they would hire an accountant instead, or retain a CPA to assist with tax matters and assume that was all they needed to succeed. However, transitioning from a bookkeeper to an accountant is only the first step in bringing on the financial personnel that will help fuel your company’s growth.
Successful companies need someone that will not only manage cash flow and provide accurate forecasting and reporting, but also offer sound advice. Having an accountant that can do the job is essential but having an accountant that can act as an advisor can really give you a competitive advantage.
So, how do you know if your accountant is working for you?
Look for ways that your accountant acts like an advisor – handling your relationship with a consultant-like approach, communicating regularly and proactively, using technology to improve efficiency and accuracy, and billing you for value-added work instead of just busywork.
During this crisis it has become essential to consult with your accountant more regularly. However, ongoing communication is key for transforming your accountant into an advisor no matter what external factors entail. You should always have access to your accountant when you need him/her, but you should also feel like you can bring ad hoc questions and concerns as they arise.
More frequent communication keeps clients informed and builds trust in the accountant-client relationship. The best accountants know that regular communication also yields better financial results because everyone is better informed, allowing for more strategic decision-making.
Accountants that are just number crunchers are stuck in the weeds doing manual tasks. However, accountants that are tech savvy and know how to use accounting software can eliminate busy work like data entry, freeing up more time for data analysis and strategic financial planning.
The best accountants have extensive knowledge of popular accounting systems like QuickBooks and can put that knowledge to good use – increasing accuracy and efficiency. Furthermore, use of cloud-based accounting systems allows for a more consultancy-type relationship because more people can get access to real-time data to facilitate better decision-making across the organization.
Use of robotic processes and AI can also provide safeguards against bank reconciliation discrepancies, data errors, and other issues that need to be addressed by an accountant, improving accuracy.
Technology allows accountants to do their best work and frees them up to act as advisors instead of cogs in the machine. Advisor-oriented accountants can make situation-specific recommendations when market disruptions or downturns occur.
For accountants that bill on an hourly basis, look for ways that your accountant works smarter for you to reduce their fees. The more your accountant uses AI, technology automation, e-documents, and other efficiency-creating processes, the less they will be billing for hourly work that could have been avoided. More efficient work allows your accountant to act more like an advisor than a bookkeeper.
Find out how your accountant measures up with this professional assessment tool: A Simple Accountant Evaluation
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