How Data, Innovation Will Power CPAs’ Resiliency

To provide the most value for their clients, accountants need easy access to useful data, a simple concept that can get lost.

In this second of a two-part series, we’ll explore how data and innovation empower accountants to support growth and stability for their small business clients.

Reliable Data & Expertise Will Power Resiliency

The immense changes brought on by the pandemic have created an even stronger need for reliable data. Shifts in where work is taking place can trigger different laws and compliance rules. According to ADP’s HR Survey Series with HR Outsourcing, 20 percent of organizations with 25 to 99 employees say they’re struggling with compliance and regulatory issues.

For example, regulatory compliance may change if an employee moves to a new location. Returning to the office means tracking vaccinations and COVID-19 testing. You and your clients need access to real-time, reliable people data that can inform decisions, manage compliance and ensure staff feels safe at work.

Accountants can use data to help their clients manage in this changing environment. Tools that access clients’ payroll data and provide insights can give accountants an early warning when their clients could use a check-in.

Employers who are adding or losing workers, for example, may soon need additional consultation and resources. If too many employees are leaving a company, these tools can offer benchmarking data on compensation and benefits that can help the employer adjust to stay competitive in their local labor market.

Growing companies could be approaching regulatory thresholds that might warrant advisory support as well. Easy access to this valuable data enables accountants to make their clients’ businesses more resilient and ultimately increases their value to the client.

Greater Innovation Will Accelerate Growth

Despite a tight labor market and supply chain difficulties, the economy is bouncing back. Many small businesses have not only survived the worst of the pandemic (thanks to their accountants), but they are also growing. Their access to—and use of—the data and services that accountants can provide will only help fuel that growth.

Technical innovation will play a large role in this. Mobile solutions that streamline back-office functions and provide HR self-service for employees are key for small business clients. This innovation is not just on the client side either. With remote access to their clients’ business data, accountants can more efficiently serve and advise.

Take auditing as an example. Traditionally, this involves pulling samples and looking for inconsistencies. Now with new AI-powered tools, accountants can run an audit on the entire data set. Another example is standardized tax decks.

Becoming consistent with the payment platforms and software being used by clients can lead to a more streamlined workflow, reducing the frustration of working on multiple platforms. New technology can also remove many of the mundane tasks for accountants, reducing errors and freeing them to provide the advisory services that really add value.

The right technology can also help accountants provide accurate business valuations. With this data in hand, accountants can help clients drive business growth whether it’s securing loans, negotiating real estate, doing estate planning, managing shareholder changes and any other aspects impacting the business’s strategic plan.

Looking Inward and Forward

Accounting firms are experiencing many of the same challenges as their clients like remote working and difficulty finding qualified staff. The latter requires accountants to focus on employee development, which is important in general, but especially in accountancy where certifications define career paths.

Because of how the pandemic has hit different segments of the economy, people are looking for opportunities to grow their skill sets. Over a quarter (28 percent) of employees have taken on new or changing roles, according to ADP Research Institute’s (ADPRI) “People at Work: A Global Workforce View” study.

Now, many workers want to add new skills and certifications to help broaden their horizons. Because employee development is a key factor in employee engagement and retention, accounting firms can only reap the benefits if they provide ongoing opportunities for skills development and career growth. Once the tax season is over, look inward and focus on what you need to do to make your organization more resilient going forward.

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