Client Accounting Services (CAS) are no longer the tedious, time-consuming chores they were in the past. Today, innovation in cloud-based technology is fueling massive growth for firms offering CAS or CFO-type services in more ways than one.
An article published recently in Accounting Today heralded the benefits of leveraging cloud-based technology, highlighting the ability to farewell “rearview accounting” with anywhere access to real-time data.
Cindy Hovig, founder of Morgan Hill, California-based Beyond Balanced Books uses Xero to offer outsourced bookkeeping services to clients. She told Accounting Today the technology has allowed her to have a “proactive rather than reactive relationship with her clients”.
“When we made this transition from desktop software to online accounting software, it really did change how we provided services,” Hovig said. “What we are able to do is we are able to really collaborate with the client [and] have interaction. When they have a problem we are able to address it right away. We are proactive.”
Using cloud-based CAS not only means working faster and better-serving clients, but it also attracts tech-savvy talent. The soon-to-be largest and perhaps most tech-savvy group in the workforce is Millennials.
Amy Vetter, Xero’s Global Vice President of Education and Head of Accounting, told Accounting Today that using new technology is one of the most beneficial ways in which you can attract Millennials.
“It is really making this huge shift for firms because a Millennial walking in doesn’t want to do the manual work of the past. They aren’t necessarily looking at becoming partner. They are looking for knowledge, excitement and purpose,” said Vetter.
“When you change your practice to be focused on a certain industry and a Millennial is passionate about that industry … that is really exciting for them to learn all of the tools, but then figure out how do you keep making these small businesses better.”
Firms using cloud-based CAS are also experiencing better client relationships and growth opportunities. Dan Schmidt is the founder of the Emerging Business CFO, a virtual CFO firm that helps startups, nonprofits and e-commerce companies of all shapes and sizes, and is also a Xero user. The firm, based in Kansas City, Missouri, offers CFO and accounting functions for a client base of about 40. Schmidt told Accounting Today that the marketing opportunity is there.
“There are a ton of companies that need that help and the cloud allows you to run more efficiently, which keeps your costs down,” said Schmidt. “The other piece, on an economic or systemic level, are companies that are trying to grow from that $500,000 to $5 million stage — that’s always where companies have started to struggle because that’s where you start to really get into cash management issues.”
While making the switch to cloud-based CAS is a great start, it shouldn’t end there. Amy Vetter told Accounting Today that both establishing a vision and putting a business plan in place are critical to success.
“They need to put together a business plan. We have programs at Xero to help them put together those business plans, it’s called Xero Accelerate, where they can actually assess what things they need to do as a practice for that change management,” Vetter said. “You need them to be dedicated to making sure that this works and have realistic expectations of the business plan of when it can actually start driving revenue.”
Xero is the leading providers of online accounting software for small businesses and their providers. To learn more about the future of client services, join us at Xerocon San Francisco on August 15-17.