Accounting businesses want their service providers to step into the role of “true [business] advisor and partner” – this is what a survey from 750 U.S. small businesses in the accounting, manufacturing, wholesale and professional services has revealed.
B2B Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) firm Exact, in partnership with Pb7 Research, conducted the said study to understand what these businesses really want from their accounting tools and service providers. They need accounting firms to provide services that go beyond the role of financial advisor and standard accounting offerings (taxes, auditing, and outsourced services) and act as a driver for businesses to stay competitive and relevant.
Furthermore, they found out that small businesses that use cloud-based software to support critical business functions make more money than those that are not in the cloud. Keeping up with the technology is one way businesses can help grow their business and stay competitive.
The survey also reveals that 51 percent of small businesses use some cloud software, with 29 percent using three or more packages. These companies reportedly have achieved stronger business performance with 25 percent additional growth, while doubling their profits.
Among the reasons these companies are switching to the cloud include security, cost control, maintenance control, and accessibility. But the actual benefits realised were ease-of-use, enhanced ability to find and share information and increased productivity.
On the other hand, accounting firms’ top business challenges include cost control, finding new customers, improving the quality of products or services, and keeping up with rules and legislation. Like the small businesses they are servicing, these accounting firms are also working on differentiating themselves to address their top issues. 45 percent of accounting firms emphasize a focus on quality in an effort to stay competitive and relevant in their industry. Only 33 percent try to offer good service and support.
But while this study encourages SMEs to adopt cloud solutions, the accounting firms themselves are not using these tools. Only 33 percent rely on the cloud for administrative processes while 23 percent use a combination of loose software applications and spreadsheets. Cost control, security and maintenance control are also among the top reasons for the big leap.
“Today’s accounting landscape is very competitive and a key driver of customer retention is the quality of the firm’s service,” said Exact U.S. Cloud Solutions Product Marketing Principal Dave Lechleitner. He added, “It’s no longer about the traditional periodic accounting services, it’s about creating long-term value.”
In an industry being disrupted and commoditised, accounting firms must struggle to become efficient and cost effective to free up time on internal administration and reallocate them to profitable tasks, concentrating on innovating and expanding their service offerings. Cloud-based solutions help in growing their accounting business and become a true advisor and partner.
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