Grow Your Accounting Firm: Effective Communication At Work

grow your accounting firm: effective communication at work
Establishing specific communication strategies is vital in successfully managing offshore teams. These strategies will ensure smooth communication between team members from different locations. Poor Communication One of the biggest reasons for failures for businesses is not talking to their offshore team members often or in the right way. We’ve found that the ones that do ... Read more

Grow Your Accounting Firm: Why Visibility Across The Team Matters

grow your accounting firm managing an offshore team
Accountability is important to a team. For accounting firms that have set their sights on growth, this is one of the things that they need to focus on. Regardless of size, firms need to have transparency. The lack of visibility is one of the hindrances in achieving success because it can derail team members. When ... Read more

Double Profits By Taking Charge Of Your Time

Double your pofits
3-minute read   For firms looking to double profits, it is important to recognise the fact that it goes hand in hand with improving productivity, enhancing efficiency and increasing capacity. But there is one problem: accountants are spending way too many time in routine tasks. Many walk into the office to perform the same tasks ... Read more

Grow Your Accounting Firm: Onboarding Clients

Grow your firm: onboarding clients
The quality of relationship you have with clients is an essential ingredient in the formula for firm success. Your growth is directly impacted by what your client thinks of you, especially during the early stages of the relationship. This is why you need to make a really good impression. The onboarding stage is where you ... Read more

Grow Your Accounting Firm: How Standardised Processes Help Drive Success

Grow your accounting firm: drive success by standardising processes
Time is a commodity in accounting. It’s not uncommon to learn of time-strapped accountants who are neck-deep in work and despite spending hours at the office, yet still accomplish  nothing significant. To grow your accounting firm, it’s important to devise strategies that will allow you to get compliance done as quickly as possible so your ... Read more

Grow Your Accounting Firm: Do You Have The Right Clients?

grow your accounting firm - client acquisition
Growing your accounting firm becomes relatively easy once you’ve built the right foundation. It starts with getting the right clients. Identified as one of the challenges in growing accounting firms, client acquisition is more than finding clients; it’s also about ensuring their satisfaction. It’s essential to get as many clients as possible, but it’s more ... Read more

A Quick Guide To Scaling Your Firm

Scaling your firm
Looking to scale your firm? Offshoring offers a viable solution to firms looking for ways to enhance productivity, improve efficiency and drive capacity. It is a long-term play but once firms put in the time and effort, it can yield an immediate upside.     Based on our data, firms that have been offshoring for ... Read more

Mandatory Breach Legislation and 2SA: Get To Know The Details

Cybersecurity updates protecting client data in the cloud
[header_title add_title=”Cybersecurity Update For Accountants “]

Protecting Client Data In The Cloud

 

Speakers:

Nick Sinclair, CEO, The Outsourced Accountant

Jamie Beresford, Managing Director, Practice Protect

This webinar discusses the following topics:

  • Mandatory breach legislation
  • Xero’s Two-Step Authentication (2SA)
    • What/Why/When
    • What accounting firms need to know
    • What your offshore team needs to know

 

Cyber Fraud Is On The Rise

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_cyber fraud

 

Key takeaways:

  • There is a 35% increase in reported breaches each year
  • Cybersecurity breaches have been on the rise for the past three years now
  • These can be considered the glory days of cyber criminals
  • Small businesses with less than 20 staff are most susceptible to breaches

 

How Has The Government Responded To The Threats?

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_mandatory breach reporting

 

In the poll we posted during the webinar, close to half (46%) of the participants admitted they haven’t implemented anything yet while 20% does not even know what the legislation is.

The Mandatory Breach Reporting Legislation aims to make the custodians of data (accounting firms) responsible for in protecting client information. Under this law, which takes effect on February 22, 2018, firms will need to report any instance of breach to the Privacy Commissioner and their clients by putting it into writing.

Note: this is not going to be a good conversation with your clients because it runs the risk of losing their trust. In addition, it can have a negative impact on your reputation since word can get out in social media, print, etc.

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_poll results

 

We wanted to know if firms are ready for the mandatory breach legislation, which rolls out this March and found that almost half (46%) have made the necessary research but haven’t implemented anything yet.

It’s quite interesting how very few (3%) are prepared with the Two-Step Authentication while 20% of firms have no idea what the legislation is about.

Revamping Policy Issues For Better Protection

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_policy issue

 

Firms need to know that the risks for cyber hacks are not rooted from I.T. issues. In fact, this is more about the policies of firms. The switch to browser-based cloud accounting has changed the game in the way in which data is accessed. This is also one of the reasons why cyber hacks have become prevalent.

Firms can have the best firewall and security measures to protect the network but since people can access your data through browsers, it’s easy to acquire information regardless of location.

All somebody needs is your password.

The cloud has made it difficult for firms to keep the required level of password hygiene. There are too many passwords due to having too many accounts to maintain.

Fact: People have at least 20 different accounts across their business and personal lives. Having these many accounts will make people use passwords that are easy to remember.

The Big Browser War

Not many people are aware that risks for data breach is a browser issue. The war between the big browsers are not helping make this easier, either. How?

Since they’re competing for your business, they will offer ways to make your lives easier. One of them is password management. Browsers can save passwords so it’s easier for users to access their accounts.

What users are unaware of is, anyone who knows which settings to configure to see your passwords.

Other practices that can compromise your private data:

  • Synchronized passwords on various devices can pose a risk. When an employee logs in with their browser ID at the office, the passwords they use can be synced with the other devices they have logged on in the past (i.e. tablets, mobile phones, etc.)
  • Hackers infecting your computer with malware

Xero’s Two-Step Authentication (2SA) Process

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_xero two step

 

The Australian Taxation Office has released a new operational framework to all application vendors that integrate with their systems that hold sensitive data.

Xero has mandated this and will officially take effect on March 1, 2018. Under this policy, team members will now be required to use an authentication code in addition to their password.

The roll-out means shared accounts will no longer work. Firms are highly recommended to make the necessary changes prior to March 1.

For clients who are using Xero, here are some tips:

  • Perform the necessary changes days, even weeks ahead. You don’t want your entire team doing it all on the same day.
  • Get on top of your password control guidelines.
  • Find ways to centralise your password policy.

 

Question & Answer

 

Q: What are some of the common questions that you have received regarding the new rules at Xero and the new legislation coming into effect in two weeks’ time?

A: Questions about the actual data and how the legislation impacts that. If a firm has a revenue of more than 3 million, they aren’t included in the legislation unless they’re holding tax phone numbers which includes accounting firms.

 

Q: Do clients need to arrange the two-step process from their end?

A: Yes. All users [have to] so their clients will be mandated as well.

 

Q: If a client fails to implement the Two-Step process are we exposed to liability for any breaches?

A: They won’t be able to access their Xero files.

 

Q: Even if it’s not mandatory for MYOB, can we still set this up for our team members here at TOA?

A: MYOB might not have this available yet but if they do, we’ll certainly look into that.

 

Q: Does Practice Protect work on remote desktop log-ins?

A: It does.You can protect your server. It provides a single set of log-in to all your applications so you can restrict IP address and protect yourself against international access to your accounts.

 

Q: What is the difference between Practice Protect and LastPass? Is one better than the other?

A: LastPass is more of a password management tool. It hasn’t been built for security from the ground up, but we advise you to do your own research.

 

Q: Do you recommend cyber insurance?

A: Most definitely. It represents strong value for money.

 

Q: Our provider has a log-in to our system to help fix bugs and issues. Will this be an issue?

A: If they have their own log-in then they will need to set up 2SA just like everybody else.

 

Q: What is the biggest risk for our clients and people in the accounting industry?

A: Identity theft. If you have a tax file number, you can lodge a fake tax return, assume someone’s identity and take over their bank accounts.

 

Q: Should we merge the XPM log-in and how long will it take?

A: You should be getting a prompt when logging in to XPM. We strongly recommend that you go ahead and do this in your own time rather than wait for March 1st. Once you merge those log-ins you will be mandated to set up your two-step authentication. The whole process may take 10 to 15 minutes, so be prepared for that.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on third parties (i.e. non-employees, IT personnel) with access to your system?

A: There is certainly a level of confidentiality. The one thing we can’t control is the way your firm manages your passwords.

The Desktop 2SA Solution

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_toa 2sa solution for staff

 

The advent of technology has been absolutely wonderful for the industry. It has made remote work possible. But it carries one risk. Your staff now has access to your IP, database, client list and other vital business information.

This is risky when you look at it from a security point of view. Anyone who’s using a local wifi connection can get hacked. We highly suggest clients implement a policy where the staff can only access the system through certain IP addresses and locations.

Password management is becoming more and more crucial as the accounting technology is starting to shift to the cloud, so it’s of vital importance to look at your security management.

TOA has rolled out a clean desk policy as part of strengthening its data security. We are also working with Practice Protect to ensure all computers are installed with the security measures. Right now, there are more than 420 Xero users in our office and we will be sending out guides in the coming weeks about this.

What Do Firms Need To Do For Their Offshore Team?

Nothing. The TOA team will be taking care of installing all the necessary software in preparation for March 1. We have also sent out an electronic direct mailer last week which detailed the step-by-step process that we are following.

For Your Onshore Team, Here’s Our Recommendation

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_xero 2sa

 

For attendees who would like to receive a template for the third party access policy, we strongly suggest you head on to http://www.practiceprotectonline.com and sign up for an accounting security consultation.

A cloud security consultant will help determine the right agreement for your firm.

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_practice protect

 

To get industry updates, expert tips and best practices for your accounting practice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up to The Ledger by clicking here.


If you are an accountant, bookkeeper or finance firm looking for solutions to capacity restraints, call our offshoring specialists at 1300 896 522 or click here to download our blueprint on how to build a global accounting team.


Building Capacity: 3 Important Questions Firms Need To Ask

Results from a previous poll we did show that 46% of firms need to know more information about outsourcing and its benefits to companies looking to build capacity while only 11% have embraced the concept and already have teams put in place.     Why does outsourcing matter? Simply put, outsourcing is a viable business ... Read more

Artificial Intelligence In Accounting: Do Accountants Need To Worry?

artificial intelligence in accounting
A 2015 report from NPR predicted various jobs that will be affected by artificial intelligence. Incidentally, accountancy is among the many industries most susceptible to the drastic changes automation brings. According to the report, the following jobs have a very high chance of being automated: Accountants and auditors (93.5%) Bookkeepers (97.6%) Financial analysts (23.3%)   ... Read more

Grow Your Accounting Firm: Recruiting The Perfect Candidate

grow your accounting firm: recruitment
Recruiting the right people can make or break an accounting firm. It is a key ingredient in becoming a high-performing firm. Matching the right people with the right tasks will increase productivity and enhance efficiency. Firms will be able to provide high value services, thereby resulting in a more profitable relationship. Discover ways to increase ... Read more

Drive Six Figure+ Revenue To Your Firm In 2018

Speakers:

Nick Sinclair, Founder, The Outsourced Accountant

Jack Blayney, Account Management Team Lead, Receipt Bank

The Outsourced Accountant is committed to improving the accounting practice. As part of our Growth series, we aim to fulfill several objectives:

  • Link technology and people
  • Make specific processes more automated
  • Have the right people do the right work

 

The webinar’s main thrust is to provide expert insights on how bookkeeping and improved accounting practices can address key issues plaguing firms.

The Outsourced Accountant is focused on growth as a direct response to feedback from our clients and our target market. The insights obtained from these responses are then used to support accountants so they can improve their practice, scale the firm and, hopefully, improve work-life balance and their overall quality of life.

 

“If you aren’t set up for the major changes that are happening, like the privacy legislation, then it may be too late by the time these things are implemented.”

Nick Sinclair, CEO of The Outsourced Accountant

Topics covered in this webinar include:

  • Key issues affecting accountants
  • Automation and its impact on bookkeeping
  • What leading firms are doing
  • Future of automation
  • Bookkeeping structure (traditional and cloud-based)
  • Building a bookkeeping division

What Are The Key Issues Affecting Accountants?

They are crushed with workflow and capacity

Accountants are busiest during this time of the year because we’re a few months away from tax season. That means more work. Add that to the compliance work that bogs them down on a regular basis.

 

Drive Six Figures Revenue To Your Firm in 2018 Key Issues

 

Accountants are neck-deep in emails and calls, according to data we’ve acquired. Add that to other issues like meetings, calendar management, reporting and handling client issues, and you’re left with time-strapped accountants who can’t focus on client-facing activities.

We’ve uncovered the three reasons why clients leave:

  • Reactive advice. Firms don’t have their workflow under control and that results to accountants always “being too busy” they don’t get to talk to their clients. They avoid ringing up clients in fear of getting additional work.
  • Poor responsiveness. Compliance work can make accountants too busy to respond to client’s enquiries, which is not good because clients demand more; they want real-time accountants who can address their concerns when they need it.
  • Trusted referral from a competitor. Today, due to technology, clients can easily switch accountants if they feel their demands are not being met. A competitor who’s doing better in terms of proactiveness and efficiency.

 

Important: 89% of businesses consider client experience to be a primary differentiator. Are you actually delivering something that differentiates you from your competitor?

Watch: Nick on being proactive and not reactive.

Read: How to become a real-time accountant

Watch: Changing customer expectations

Watch: Are You Always Available To Clients? 

Our findings show that most accountants are sitting in front of their computers responding to emails and calls and issues, and they are not actually doing work that is based on their charge out rate. They are not adding value to their clients.

Accountants have really low contact time

Accountants spend too much time on compliance. Low contact time leads to inefficiencies. Compliance work can produce a domino effect, which ultimately results to accountants being unable to add value for their clients.

We found that partners and firms are so swamped with work they no longer have time to do client-facing tasks. These tasks are what actually drive profit.

 

Drive Six Figures Revenue To Your Firm in 2018 Low Contact Time

 

Accountancy firms are spending a significant amount of time just reconciling transactions. They are occupied with managing and processing the finances and chasing clients for paperwork.

These figures show that firms are stuck with compliance work instead of client-facing activities. We aim to implement processes that take the burden of compliance off the accountants so they can pay more attention to adding value.

 

“Compliance is really necessary but it’s not sexy.”

Jack Blayney

Technology overload

There is plenty of technology available for accountants that can help them automate their tasks and, eventually, strip off significant amount of time spent on compliance.

The problem is many firms are swamped with too many software it’s unclear how their IT stack can help them. There are hundreds of them out there it’s become overwhelming.

 

Drive Six Figures Revenue To Your Firm in 2018 Technology Overload

 

Firms need to take a look at their current IT stack and identify how they’re actually utilising it.

Based on our findings:

  • 25% to 30% are overwhelmed by their IT stack
  • 36% said they know what they need but haven’t implemented them yet
  • 10% said they have a seamless IT stack

 

Firms that can successfully identify these key issues and find ways to go around them stand to benefit from the following:

  • Reduced partner hours
  • Improved revenues
  • Enhanced efficiencies
  • Improved cash flow
  • Additional services offered (business advisory)
  • Increased referrals
  • Improved staff engagement and retention

Bookkeeping And Automation

Bookkeeping has evolved from being a mere transaction reconciliation process to a valuable core service that’s used to provide vital insights to financial advisory.  

Key takeaways:

  • Bookkeeping is the first part of a process and firms need to own it from start to finish
  • Cloud technology has made the transition a lot easier
  • Technology has made traditional reactive accounting services more proactive
  • Both parties can see client data in real-time
  • Accountants can make forecasts with pinpoint accuracy
  • Firms can easily transition clients to a mobile and paperless process
  • Bookkeeping comes before accounting and, now, more firms are adopting it because it makes the end-of-year work faster and easier
  • Firms that add bookkeeping to their services

What Do The Leading Firms Do?

  • CEOs act as leaders and are not on the tools
  • Promote work-life balance
  • Have effectively mapped out their people strategy
  • The process, IT stack and people are all sorted properly
  • Enjoy three to six times revenue on their staff unlike others that only get twice the revenue for a higher cost per employee
  • The right people are doing the right job at the right costs
  • Accountants have enough time to spend with clients
  • Real-time access to data for both parties
  • High staff engagement
  • Increasing NPS scores and inbound referrals
  • Low client attrition rate
  • Increased profits

The Future Of Automation

  • Robots cannot replace accountants.
  • Simple, repetitive tasks can be automated for improved productivity.
  • Accountants will always be required for face-to-face contact with clients.
  • Receipt Bank aims to make their partners custodians of data: responsible for ensuring data integrity, improving efficiency and automation.

The Bookkeeping Structure

 

Drive Six Figures Revenue To Your Firm in 2018 Bookkeeping Structure

 

There is not much different between workflows of the traditional bookkeeping workflow and cloud bookkeeping workflow. The same things need to be done. The difference, however, is in the manner in which it is done.

What happens when you move to cloud bookkeeping?

  • Information becomes digital
  • Technology will automate manual tasks
  • Firms are able to create smoother workflows

 

The Outsourced Accountant Case Study

We conducted a survey and found that less than 20% of our clients are actually using Receipt Bank. This is concerning because it means these firms are not maximising the staff they have, which also means they are not supercharging their businesses.

What are the accountants’ concerns with automation?

Accountants and bookkeepers that charge per hour are worried that technology will get the work done quicker, which means their hours are reduced. Reduced hours mean reduced income.

These days, the bookkeeping ratio (number of clients per bookkeeper) is low. This can be traced back to not using cloud technology.

  • It’s currently around 1:10 million
  • Receipt Bank partners are aiming for 1:30
  • The best so far is 1:52

 

As processes become more efficient, with the help of tools like Receipt Bank, we want the number to start rising because that will be a key indicator of growth: more clients and more revenue.

Technology enables accounting and bookkeeping firms to really add value at a higher scale for clients. This will mean the firm will become extremely profitable because they have extremely satisfied clients.

A couple of key takeaways:

  • Have an offshore team complement your local efforts
  • Combine technology and people

 

Assessing your proactiveness with clients

We ran a poll during the webinar to determine a firm’s proactiveness. The results showed that approximately 80% of the attendees are highly reactive.

This is a result of issues with workflow and capacity.

Identifying The Trusted Advisor

Accountants should be the trusted advisor. However, in the current landscape, the bookkeepers are emerging as the ones clients trust most. Here are the reasons:

  • Bookkeepers have access to client data 24/7
  • Bookkeepers are frequently in touch with clients
  • Bookkeepers acquire valuable data and insights
  • Bookkeepers are starting to provide management reporting
  • Bookkeepers are embracing technology and using it to move to a more advisory-style business

 

These present an opportunity for accounting firms: start bringing in bookkeeping services in-house.

 

Drive Six Figures Revenue To Your Firm in 2018 Trusted Advisor

 

Benefits of having your own bookkeeping division:

  • You can further enhance the trust with clients
  • You can control the relationship because you’re doing both the bookkeeping and accounting
  • Clients will have no reason to leave

Building Your Own Bookkeeping Division

 

Drive Six Figures Revenue To Your Firm in 2018 Bookkeeping Divsion

 

  • Utilise technology and what you already have from your client
  • The average fee per person generated is really low
  • You can save 30% to 50% of time on annual tax and compliance work
  • Bookkeeping revenue is always twice or thrice more than what accountants get for compliance work
  • With the help of technology, you can get 30+ clients per employee
  • You can use it as an effective lead generation method
  • You can generate a revenue of five to ten thousand per bookkeeping client
  • Having a bookkeeping division will strengthen and improve client relationship

 

Conclusion

To enhance workflow, improve efficiency and drive revenue to your firm, it’s important to consider important factors:

  • Key issues that affect accountants
  • Technology and its impact on the accounting practice
  • Traditional bookkeeping and cloud-based bookkeeping

Understand that clients leave for various reasons:

  • Reactive advice from accountants
  • Poor responsiveness
  • Trusted referral from a competitor

Bookkeeping has already evolved to become a core accounting practice that drives revenue. And there’s no reason for accountants to fear automation because robots cannot replace accountants. Accountants will always be required for face-to-face client interaction.

Just the same, bookkeepers play a vital role in the practice because they:

  • Have access to client data 24/7
  • Acquire valuable data and insights
  • Are already providing management reporting
  • Use technology to shift to an advisory-style business

To get industry updates, expert tips and best practices for your accounting practice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up to The Ledger by clicking here.


The Outsourced Accountant is the leader in dedicated outsourcing for accounting firms. We help firms become more efficient and scalable  through insightful content like webinars, podcasts and articles.

To learn how to build a successful global offshore team and  improve workflow, download our ebook here. If you’re experiencing capacity restraints and looking to scale your firm, call our offshoring specialists today at 1300 896 522.


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