Cameron John: The Client of the Future – Innovating around the Client Experience
Within the Alternative Insights pain point series on The Client of the Future – Innovating around the Client Experience, today’s perspective on the Accountancy sectors’ approach to innovating around the client experience comes from Cameron John, UK & Ireland Leader at accounting automation software provider Silverfin, who advises that data and process automation are the starting points to building a client, value-based business model of the future…
For accountants, the services their clients’ value are changing. The client of the future wants more advice. They won’t just turn to their accountant when it’s time for compliance reporting. They want to benefit from their expert, and trusted, advice to help improve their businesses, in real-time. That means a significant rethink about the type of services firm’s provide, how they are delivered, the skills future accounting teams need, and critically, from Silverfin’s perspective as a cloud software innovator to the profession, the tools and technology they use to deliver these services. The firms that get this right will benefit from this shift over time to delivering value-added advisory services and have a more competitive compliance businesses too.
So how do you respond to this shift in client needs now – get ahead and build a ‘future’ firm today? I often talk to accountants about this topic and the consistent themes I hear are: get data and use it; automate where you can; develop advisory skills, and spend more time with clients to build deeper relationships. So let’s look at these in turn.
Everyone’s talking about the power of data in all fields of life, so why is it so important in accounting? I believe it is the starting point for transforming your firm to respond to changing client needs. Consolidating the many online and offline data sources of client data across your firm into one (preferably cloud) data hub is the first critical step in opening up the opportunity to both automate your processes and develop the insights you need to power your advisory services. No data, no insight. No real-time data and you’ll be working with boxes of client paper files, or manually uploading data into time consuming Excel spreadsheets, forever. A data strategy starts you on the route to effective transformation.
With data digitised, consolidated and stored centrally, you can focus on process or workflow standardisation and automation. Here you will ensure consistent best practice across the firm, speed up the execution of your compliance work and that means you free up accountant time to invest in their clients and improve competitiveness and profitability. In a world where compliance is becoming a commoditised service, and clients are becoming price sensitive, this automation is key. Digitise the client files and then have the technology to automate your workflows and you put yourself into a winning position.
Now you can turn your attention to advising your clients – giving them the insight and advice they crave. Automating and standardising your compliance workflows liberates the time your experienced accountants need to spend with their clients. But it is the data on each client (and trends across your portfolio) they now have that gives the oxygen to fuel your advisory services.
No data, no automation and less time for clients. No data, no insight. No insight, no advice. No advice, no deeper, long-term client relationships.
We built Silverfin to give our accountant partners the cloud platform they need to make running their firm easier today and to build the firm of the future. We give them that critical single, cloud-based client data hub, automate their accounting and compliance workflows, and then provide them with the analytics and reporting tools they need to power their advisory services. Data. Automation. Insight. I believe these are the three pillars of a successful firm and client relationship of the future – but the good news is you don’t have to wait. Prioritise these three elements in your innovation strategy, add technology like Silverfin, and you can jump ahead to the future now.