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3 Questions Acccountants should ask cloud accounting clients

Here I am blogging after midnight unable to sleep.

Crazy? Yes. But this particular scenario has really got my goat and nearly 14 hours after the meeting its still in my mind so I thought I'd get it off my chest.

This week I have spent more time engaging with business owners, whereas the previous weeks/months I've been engaging with more accountants.

For me, it has been a really disappointing week with how I've felt for the business owners and staff post meeting. A few simple changes to their business would make massive differences, the administration overhead and onus on individuals alone is ridiculous... Job satisfaction at an overall low. The general awareness of how very basic software could improve their business and individual job satisfaction is practically non-existent.

A real world example of an underserved cloud accounting client

Yesterday I met with a lady who works for a charity. They had implemented cloud accounting 15 months ago and are going through year end activities. They contacted BlueHub because they required advanced reporting not available within Xero, which they needed for their end of year trustee meeting. When they had Sage in place they manually filled in a spreadsheet which then formatted a master spreadsheet to give the required output but obviously that is now not applicable to use.

Here is how the conversation went:

Me: How are you finding Xero?
Client: Yes I like it now, it has taken some getting used to.
Me: Has your accountant helped you along the way with advice and best practice for the system etc?
Client: Well they are new to it so we've been learning alongside them.
Me: Do you have to process much paperwork into the system manually?
Client: Oh yes. Plenty of purchase invoices to input and the expenses management is spreadsheet based also. Plus chasing overdue invoices is taking a lot of time.
Me: So you're managing all of that data entry for these activities and your accountant hasn't mentioned any systems that could help with this? Maybe purchase invoice automation software? Expenses software? Debt collection software?
Client: Nope. We've just appointed an apprentice to take this on.
Me: Ok, bet the kid loves that job of copying data from paper to computer every day.
Client: Hmmm. Yea I don't think it is what they expected.
Me: I think I know the answer to this, but you haven't been advised on a reporting system either?
Client: Nope....
Me: Ok let me show you what is possible...

20 minutes later I have a scope to quote for the advanced reporting outputs and to assist with automation of purchase invoice, expense management and invoice chasing software options to give them. Plus the prospect felt assured that we can make their work life better.

This is an all too regular type of conversation for our business.

The disappointment for me was three fold -
  1. A lady struggling to make sense of the options available to her, for over a year.
  2. An apprentice who has been given an 'opportunity' to be a data entry specialist in a position that will likely be completely replaced by software in the not too distant future - how aspirational!?
  3. The accountancy firm (which wasn't a small practice) has got the Xero Certified Advisor logo but had basically put one person in place to show 'willing' to the cloud accounting cause - no real commitment at all. On their website it also says they give "systems advice"....
Three simple questions

I came away from the meeting annoyed with how the Accountancy Practice has been servicing this client... They are responsible for all of the above. Three simple questions asked monthly/quarterly in a 15-30 minute meeting or phone call would have helped to overcome these issues:

1. How are you getting on with Xero?
2. Are there any aspects with Xero that we could help with?
3. How much rekeying of data are you doing regularly around Xero?

My question is: When are more accountants going to step up to the mark of business advisory? Assisting their clients by making simple recommendations that can make valuable changes to businesses, rather than sticking to crunching numbers out once a year? And if a practice doesn't know about the basics discussed above then FIND OUT or don't offer these services, allowing businesses to find a practice that can serve their needs properly.

There was one final question. This time it came from the client - "Can you put me in touch with a real Xero accountant?". My response "Gladly".

If you would like to speak with me about this topic and how you can improve the service provided to cloud accounting clients please book a call with me or contact me on LinkedIn.