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Accountants! Don’t object to change, be a part of it

The times they are a changin’.

Gone are the days of manual cash books, excel spreadsheets and shoe boxes full of receipts. They’re all things of the past, and utilising technology and the Cloud are the way forward. Technology is not taking over but it is here to help, if we let it.  

It’s an industry hungry for change, but often reluctant to take the leap forward. Many accountants feel as if the change is being forced upon them; with an irrational fear of AI. We should not be afraid of change! It’s all about small, conscious steps forward. 

We are implementing software changes, plus developing the pre-existing tooling we have, to ensure that our clients receive the best possible service and we’re running as efficiently and progressively as we can.

The UK government’s aim to put an end to tax returns and tedious manual processing, i.e. the Making Tax Digital initiative, is only increasing the profitability of business. Time previously wasted on manual bookkeeping and piles of paperwork is now being utilised by not only accountants and bookkeepers but business owners too. Software packages such as Xero and Pleo are there to help streamline and automate internal bookkeeping functions. So we can all focus on more important consulting work. It’s all in the way of a more sustainable accounting future.

What do the people really want?

When I ask a client what they want to get out of their accountancy service, the answer is always the same. They want to hand the work to us so we can deal with their tax affairs because they don’t have the expertise required for such complex processing. 

In the end, it all comes down to one thing: they want time. Or rather, time back. Time back to be able to concentrate on what they know and are good at – their work – so that we, as accountants, can concentrate on what we know and are good at. 

By automating the processing of invoices and receipts through cloud software and the introduction of open banking, we are making the right steps forward to save our clients the time they need.

The kind of Cloud you want

As of the 6th of April 2023, HMRC aims to implement Making Tax Digital to self-assessment.  This means it won't only be the submission of VAT returns that will be affected. In order to run an efficient bookkeeping facility within your business, you should be using a functioning cloud software to store and process your data. Such innovations were but a pipe-dream up to 10 years ago. 

The world of finance is forever evolving, but this doesn’t always mean that everyone involved is evolving with it.

I am often judged as a young professional in an industry full of big fish on my capability and my knowledge. Of course, there are people that would prefer to work with someone that has worked in the industry for 50 years but, fortunately, those numbers are dwindling as people start to recognise the knowledge gap between those in the industry reluctant to change, vs. those moving with the times. I work with a team of like-minded, forward-thinking people, who are prepared for these changes.

Things change. Principles don’t

This is an opportunity for the finance industry to not only give our clients the best service we can – the service they deserve – but to educate people further. To co-create. 

If you asked your family and friends what an accountant or bookkeeper actually does on a day-to-day basis, the most common answer would probably be ‘they count money’. Taking the time to educate others on what we actually have to offer could be life changing for businesses.

We don’t just offer an accountancy service at Hentons, we want to work with our clients to ensure all parties get what they want out of business. We don’t want to talk about what your finances looked like a year ago, we want to be prepared for what they will look like next year! 

And our prediction? Expect more automation, from compliance to controls. What won’t change? Our expertise. If anything, they’ll deepen as we adapt. We just hope the rest of the industry wakes up to the new normal.

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Robyn Jones

Digital Project Manager at Hentons Chartered Accountants

Robyn Jones is the Digital Project Manager at Hentons Chartered Accountants. She is an expert in cloud accountancy and has a passion for delivering a best-in-class digital service to meet all her clients needs.