Posted on 27 February, 2018 | 4 min
The 9 Spokes team recently returned from QuickBooks Connect 2018 in London. It was a great place to be, surrounded by some of the best SaaS and accounting minds in the country. But even beyond the two-day event, there are a great, ongoing and increasingly attractive number of reasons why accountants should help their clients go digital—one of which is Making Tax Digital.
In a mere 13 months, businesses all over the UK will be mandated to use the Making Tax Digital system for VAT. Already today, there are plenty of businesses involved in the wider pilot and gaining a valuable head-start before their competitors have to abide by the new rules in April 2019.
Is every small business ready to adopt the new digital system? The answer, unfortunately, is no. In truth, many are nowhere near.
Making Tax Digital will require that many businesses and self-employed professionals use digital record-keeping software, which will be linked to HMRC systems, allowing the flow of information between multiple parties.
However, some 65% of SMEs aren’t currently using software to manage their businesses¹, representing around 3.7 million of the UK’s 5.7 million small companies. As the deadline for tax digitisation approaches, accountants are going to be called upon for help with increasing desperation.
While it’s sure to be a busy few months ahead, it’s also a golden opportunity for accountants. Even beyond the set-up period, the new move towards tax digitisation is an accountant’s chance to build ongoing client relationships as an essential, trusted and technically savvy advisor.
One small step for clients…
Moving to cloud accounting for Making Tax Digital is good for compliance, but it’s not the only reason to make use of business apps. In fact, there are plenty of motives for moving to a cloud-based business-management ecosystem.
Among them, cloud-using SMEs have increased revenue growth of 20%, while those that use three or more cloud apps on average enjoy revenue growth exceeding 25%².
Despite this, clients are held back by their perceived security/compliance concerns, budget limitations and issues related to moving from legacy systems³.
What should encourage them towards the cloud, however, are the advantages SMEs say online business management software has brought them, the most common of which include added security, lower IT costs and improved mobility⁴.
… One giant leap for accountants
Given the benefits, accountants urgently need to get their clients comfortable using cloud tools. Beyond the Making Tax Digital initiative, accountants will increasingly be relied upon for their technology advice around getting the most out of business software, as well as help balancing the books.
In a world where much of the day-to-day accounting is already done by bookkeeping software, an advisory role might soon be the biggest fee-earner for many professionals in the industry.
And let’s not forget that small businesses in the UK say they are twice as happy with tech-savvy accountants⁵. Ongoing relationships could hinge on the quality if their technical advice.
With this in mind, the next logical question is whether accountants themselves are ready to be cloud technology advisors—and the answer for many is also a resounding no. Only 45% of them use online systems for administration⁵, meaning many won’t be in a good position to leverage a deeper advisory-based relationship.
Getting better acquainted with cloud apps and the business-intelligence environment will also confront many of things SMEs demand most from their accountants today. Improved speed and responsiveness, better knowledge of their market, better data and analytics capabilities, and IT and software knowledge are the most common client demands⁴.
So where do accountants begin getting to grips with an app environment with hundreds of thousands of options, you might be asking. A good place is by exploring some of the best apps out there for small businesses.
At 9 Spokes, we’ve put together a recommended list of great small-business apps to help SMEs and accountants make a start. We work with these apps every day, and have vetted them for their quality and usefulness.
To delve deeper, you can also set up a free account to get your own My Companies dashboard specifically for accountants.
From there, you can explore a marketplace full of free trials, see real-time information on your business-intelligence dashboard and start considering what specific insights might suit your individual clients. We can even upload your clients for you from a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet to get things started.
If you'd like to learn more about getting your clients in the cloud, you can check out our My Companies page for more information and to start helping your clients for FREE. We’d love to hear how you get on.