Written by Victoria Hoffman of Hubdoc: Trends in the accounting industry are largely driven by new developments in technology. Future-proofing your practice means staying on top of these ​accounting trends​ and understanding how they’re disrupting and shaping industry best practices.

So, what are some of the key trends that accountants and bookkeepers should be aware of in 2018 (and beyond)? Let’s take a closer look.

1. Automation enables high-value advisory services

Advancements in ​machine learning and artificial intelligence​ have already started to rock the world of accounting – for example, ​Intuit QuickBooks​ and ​Xero​ have both introduced machine learning projects over the past couple of years. These developments have enabled accounting firms to automate tasks such as document collection, data entry, and other compliance-related tasks.

Contrary to what some may have been led to believe, automation is ​not ​ making the role of accountants obsolete – rather, it’s arming them with two items that are essential for becoming proactive advisors: more time, and more real-time data. It’s up to accountants to leverage their available time and data to provide more proactive advice (and, consequently, more value) to their clients.

2. Client experience is a key differentiator

It is predicted​ that customer experience will take over price and product/service as a key differentiator for most B2B businesses by the year 2020. Adopting cloud accounting technology
is proven to help increase practice efficiency, improve the client experience, and ​supercharge your practice​.

As more processes are standardised with technology, however, firms should not rely on the use of cloud accounting tools as their ​only​ differentiator. Standing out as an adviser requires going above and beyond with all client interactions.

Consider every possible interaction (from ​client onboarding​, to optimising your workflows, to reporting) and figure out how you can increase client engagement. In turn, ​increasing client engagement​ will improve client retention.

3. Advisers will require a deeper expertise of the growing tech landscape

In March 2017, ​Accountex reported​ that the accounting technology ecosystem had doubled in size over the prior year. As exciting as it is to explore all of the cloud accounting solutions that exist, it can also be confusing.

Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by the sheer number of available apps is a phenomenon known as “​app fatigue​” – and it can impact a firm’s productivity in more ways than you might think. Accountants with “shiny object syndrome” might go overboard and select too many apps, creating redundancies in their accounting technology stack. Or, conversely, they might feel intimidated by the app ecosystem and avoid exploring new solutions altogether.

Navigating the accounting app landscape and being able to help clients understand which tools will work best for their business will be a valuable skill as the ecosystem continues to grow. Moreover, ​overcoming app fatigue​ and understanding where automation can improve your workflows (and, more importantly, how it can improve your client experience) will help to future-proof your firm.

If these three trends point to one thing, it’s the importance of becoming a devoted adviser to your clients. In order to effectively advise (and future-proof your firm), it’s critical to stay on top of trends and adapt to best practices that are in your clients’ best interests.

Hubdoc will be at Accountex Summit North, Pod 39.

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