Accounting firms don’t NEED to invest in technology, but they should WANT to…

In his blog our CEO shares personal insights from a career in accounting and tech

The audit and accounting profession is awash with forecasts of the impending doom of the role of the accountant. AI will automate everything. You must quickly embrace advisory work. Yesterday.  

But is that true? Or the work of those trying to accelerate the natural evolution of skeptical accountants? 

I’d argue it doesn’t completely matter. It only matters if as an accountant you are aspiring to delay the adoption of technology in your delivery of audit, tax, accounts preparation or due diligence services. A delay this to the extreme until the last possible moment. 

Many times, I have used the Rogers Diffusion of Innovation to articulate the opportunities and risks regarding of early or late technology adoption for accountants. 

For laggards there will always be a reason not to invest. The current approach is fine. The marketing is exaggerated. It’s too expensive. Change will take time. Next year will work better. We really want to do this but… I feel like I have heard them all. 

So, let’s propose accountants don’t NEED to invest in technology as of today. That you could still use a pen, paper and calculator (or the digital equivalents) to do most services accounting firms provide. Instead I believe accountants should WANT to. 

Why? Ignore the commercial side (for a few paragraphs) and think for a moment about who the immediate, direct beneficiaries are.  

  1. Your team. Both current and future. You should want to develop their skills towards a successful career, whether in your firm or elsewhere. And attract the best people. Who would want to work in a garage with the prospect of being the wrong end of a wrench all day because the boss didn’t believe in wheel nut guns? 
  2. Your clients. Both current and future. You should want to provide the best service you possibly can to help them grow and prosper. And to attract more clients who value working with you. Would you want mortgage advice from someone wading through paper, or someone comparing products at the click of a button? 

If this aligns to your aspirations, we must revisit the commercial side. Yes, investing in technology costs money. What that means for your firm depends on your culture and the mentality of your partners. How do you want to achieve ROI? 

There are a broad range of ways investing in technology can also achieve immediate profitability increases. But, consider only the natural fallout from the direct beneficiaries above: 

  1. Staff retention is higher, and recruitment yields high-quality talent. We all know the cost and disruption of key employees leaving the business. 
  2. If clients get more value from you, then you should be considering increasing your fees. Particularly if you are performing additional work. And you’ll be attracting new clients. 

You certainly don’t NEED to invest in technology, but why wouldn’t you WANT to? 

Join our on demand webinar  to hear 3 case studies from firms of various sizes regarding their technology journey. Run in partnership with ICAEW but free to non-members too.

Mark Edmondson

Inflo President & CEO