As Accountants in Practice today The Digital Agenda is just a simple statement of fact. We do not operate in a vacuum. There is a wall of noise about all things digital. In truth much of it aimed at the average accountant is being driven by the need to sell us software, expertise and systems. All of which supposedly we cannot exist without, or which will make us so profitable to quench our greatest commercial desires by accessing the new generation of clients.
To be fair, the digital agenda has brought accounting practices much that is good and useful and long may it continue. I do worry though, that by devoting the acres of space to all things tech we are downgrading our real expertise of being an accountant to almost that of a simple technician who is in fact more data processor than accountant, more technician than tax expert and more computer dependent than numerically literate.
I am bombarded with pitches across all mediums constantly telling me that; for my practice, what is on offer is suitable for me regardless of cost. These days rather than putting my plaque on the wall and waiting for the clients to file, in we should invest in ‘how to run a profitable accountancy practice’ coaching, training, up-skilling and soft skilling. As well as all sorts of marketing angles too many to list. What none of these offerings can tell me is how to answer the simplest of tax question that you, the client, or potential client may ask. This is simply because it is beyond their remit. I and my staff however need to be able to answer those questions. (err we can by the way, I continue…)
We must hold on to the core values that you, the client wants. Which is to ensure that you get your tax right, and that every legitimate means possible has been used to keep the overall tax liability to a minimum which means investing time and expertise in understanding the tax code both corporate and personal and both direct and indirect. We need to understand the nuances of payroll legislation and of course employment law. We must understand Accounts and by understand, I mean not just the numbers but the relationship of the numbers to the owner’s goals and business aims.
Now technology can most certainly help in many ways. BUT nothing, no matter what financial investment we make in terms of IT, can make a bad accountant into a good accountant. It can make a bad accountant more productive. It can even make a bad accountant more profitable, but it can’t make a bad accountant a good accountant. What makes a good accountant is that we can cut through the noise and invest in maintaining our expertise, for the benefit of the client. I suppose what I am saying is that it’s all good banging on about technology and techniques but don’t do that to the detriment of our core skills that made you qualify as and practice as an Accountant.