Small change now can create big gains at year-end

Frank Woods, UK & Ireland General Manager of Bankstream By Frank Woods

23 September 2014

Frank Woods, UK & Ireland General Manager of Bankstream, suggests some small steps which could result in big gains for accountants.

As accountants across the country return from their summer break, our memories of long warm days and relaxation are quickly erased by the reality of the coming winter and, worse, the approach of year-end accounting season.

In the lead-up to January, accountants may be bombarded by offers of new systems and new methods aimed at making the year-end process less painful for both accountants and their small business clients.  No doubt many of these products and services would be useful, but the implementation of new systems often comes at a cost (time, money and disruption) that many accountants just cannot bear.

For example, moving to cloud accounting looks attractive, with accountant and client sharing information in "real time".  However many accountants are wisely cautious about the time and energy it will take to move their staff and clients to a new system, and research suggests that many clients are simply unwilling or unable to make significant changes anyway.

With this in mind, an increasing number of accountants are instead looking at ways to improve the way they operate by making small changes – using add-ons to improve existing systems rather than replacing what they have.  Many are also encouraging clients to make simple changes (within the limitations of their time and skills) to ensure that the work arrives in a more organised way. 

Here are five small changes that every accountant seeking big gains should consider:   

  • Receive your clients' bank transaction records from the bank - Bank-authorised services allow small businesses to have their transaction data sent to their accountant electronically throughout the year.  This data can then be imported into existing accounting systems thus reducing data entry and errors and avoiding the waiting game for accountants.  The small business does not need to do anything other than sign an authority for the bank.
  • Use a scanning solution to digitise hard copy records - Add-on systems allow hard copy records to be scanned and turned into data files for import into existing accounting systems.
  • Provide clients with a document sorter or folder to place hard copy records in as they are received - It's still a "shoebox", but a much more organised shoebox.  A checklist for clients is also good idea.
  • Offer discounts for those who bring work in early, or at a specific period -  Why not offer clients an incentive to bring work in outside of peak times.
  • Training - Never underestimate the gains that can be enjoyed by simply doing what you do better.
About the Author

Frank Woods initially trained and worked as an accountant before moving into accounting systems early in his career. Since then, Frank has worked for various accounting software providers in Australia, consulting to thousands of accounting practices seeking to use technology to the greatest benefit of their practice.

In 2012 Frank and his wife relocated to London to head up the UK and Ireland business for Bankstream, a leading provider of data and software to accounting practices and their clients.

Connect with Frank on LinkedIn.

Topics

  • Corporate and financial reporting
  • Practice hub
  • Development of the profession

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