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Accountants: Do you know the risks of avoiding the cloud?

If your accountancy firm still hasn't got on board with an evolving industry, there's never been a better time to get started.

But if you're finding it hard to commit to the first step, it's worth knowing what's in store for accountants in a cloudless future.

We took a look at some of the major pain-points for practices that either resist or refuse a change to a better way of working – what they'll have to endure, and what they'll end up missing out on.

You'll end up paying more

It's easy to assume that moving to a new accounting system will be costly.

And you'd be right to think so – there are some costs. But in both the long and the short term, there are some massive savings to consider, and plenty of accountancy practices actually end up paying less once they move over to a cloud-based system.

Without the cloud, your firm can expect to keep paying for:

  • the cost of local hardware. As well as the initial expense of local machines and back-up servers, you'll have to bear the ongoing costs of maintaining and upgrading them.
  • the labour costs of manual tasks and IT support. Without the time-saving automation of cloud software, you'll keep on paying your staff to do the smaller jobs that simply don't need to be done manually.
  • fixed systems that don't scale. Rigid, in-house systems aren't flexible like the needs of your practice – so you'll often end up paying for hardware and software that you don't really need.
Cloud-based accounting software, on the other hand, requires no ongoing maintenance and upgrading, and no continual updates to keep it secure.

Automated processes within the software can let your workers move away from low-level manual tasks like data entry. So you'll either have lower labour costs, or the same money you spend on your staff can be put to better use.

And finally, most cloud software operates on a fixed monthly fee, with packages that you can scale up or down as you need them – which means you only ever have to pay for the level of functionality that you need at the time.

You'll lose clients – old and new

Modern businesses demand modern methods.

In fact, surveys show that more than 50% of enterprises consider the cloud to be an essential part of their business model – and that means they'll consider it to be an essential part of their finances.

As your prospective clients start searching for an accountancy practice – and as your old clients start getting more clued up – they're going to expect a firm that's flexible, mobile and able to collaborate with them using the tools that they've already incorporated into their own businesses.

And if that's not your firm, they'll start shopping around with your competition.

If you're a UK practice, the clock is already ticking. The government's Making Tax Digital initiative is set to make online tax reporting compulsory in just over a year, and accountancy firms that aren't up to speed simply won't be able to provide the services their clients need.

You'll keep suffering from the same old errors

Traditional, offline systems are ripe with potential for errors and inaccuracies.

Duplicate entries, manual data transfer, mismatched reports, out-dated software – the list goes on.

These kinds of errors aren't just costly and time-consuming: they're likely to kill your clients' confidence in your practice, too.

But with a move to a cloud-based system, most of these hiccups can be eradicated from your staff's daily tasks.

Your software and data is automatically kept up-to-date, your employees are all collaborating and saving their work on the same file, and the smaller tasks like identifying duplicate entries and aligning purchases with invoices are all taken care of automatically.

No needless errors or omissions, and less of your talented employees' time spent hunting for and correcting clerical problems.

Your competition will tear ahead

We already know that more than half of businesses see the cloud as an essential part of how they work. And as their needs change, your practice needs to react and adapt to stay relevant and in demand.

But what you might not know is that almost 60% of your peers are already using cloud-based software.

Your competitors with high numbers of cloud-using clients see higher levels of revenue growth, and your cloud-based rivals add fives times as many clients as traditional accountants.

As if that's not enough, firms that free up their workers' time by using more accurate, automated software can start to offer higher-level consulting and data analysis services to their clients, with almost 70% of accountants saying that their clients regularly consult them as part of any major business decision.

If that sounds like the kind of rapid growth and top-notch service you'd like to see your own practice achieve, we really need to talk.