Accountants leverage technology to enhance client services

Written by: Rachel Miller

Date: 11 June 2024

An accountanta adopts tech to better support his small business clients

A new survey has found that increased demand from clients for a full spectrum of services is driving accountants to rely on technology to stay ahead of the curve.

The 2024 Intuit QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey, which polls UK-based accountants, reveals 75% of accountants have seen an increased demand for support with financial management from their clients in the past year. The latest findings also show a shift with a larger share of respondents indicating their clients have needed more support with technology management this year (72%) compared to last year (64%) including implementing and managing technology solutions. Accountants are rising to the occasion, leveraging technology to cut time with compliance and elevate the quality of their strategic business advisory. On average, 6 in 10 (60%) of respondents’ clients have experienced profit growth over the last 12 months and accountants rank implementing or optimising accounting technology solutions (63%) as the service that has contributed the most to their clients’ increasing profits.

The advantages of technology for accounting professionals extend far beyond internal adoption. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents agree more tech-advanced clients are better prepared to weather economic challenges, such as rising prices and high interest rates. Accountants recognise that understanding how clients use technology is also crucial when assessing their fit as prospects. When seeking new clients, accountants aren’t just on the lookout for high-growth potential (72%), but a significant share (63%) are also weighing up clients’ use of technology in the criteria.

85% of accountants still emphasise the importance of maintaining a human connection with clients and staff, revealing it's not just about efficiency in accounting and bookkeeping, but that relationships matter as well. Technology creates efficiencies for accountants and bookkeepers, affording them the opportunity to spend time maintaining that human connection.

Nick Williams, UK Product Director, QuickBooks UK says, "Accounting professionals are navigating a complex economic landscape, yet the silver lining is the increasing demand for their expertise. The combination of rising costs and this surge in demand underscores the need for streamlining processes. The strategic adoption of digital tools is no longer optional but a cornerstone for enduring success. Those who master the art of integrating technology with a bespoke human touch will not only stay competitive but also deliver the best-in-class service that clients deserve."

Trusted advisors

As last year's survey insights revealed, technology is helping to free up time to focus on taking on more of an advisory role to clients. This year’s data is painting a clearer picture of exactly how.

As well as automating simpler routine tasks, technology is streamlining compliance tasks. Accountants expect significant time savings in tax preparation (97%), cost accounting (94%), and bookkeeping (92%). By streamlining compliance tasks, technology is making it easier for accountants and bookkeepers to dedicate more time to strategic business advisory services, increasing face-to-face time with clients and making client interactions more meaningful.

As a result, businesses are increasingly turning to accountants as trusted advisors, rather than just compliance specialists. Accountants are stepping up to the challenge and leveling up their work. More than 8 in 10 respondents expect tech to elevate the quality of their advisory services over the next 12 months - particularly business strategising (97%), risk management (93%), and financial forecasting (91%).


Unleashing AI

Advancements in technology are reshaping the accounting profession, and the use of AI is leading the charge. Data shows that the majority (99%) have used AI to assist clients and improve business operations revealing that accountants and bookkeepers are very much embracing AI to boost efficiency. Data entry and processing (59%), real-time financial insights (55%), and financial forecasting (53%) top the list of client-related AI tasks.

Accountants are also leveraging AI with ethics top of mind. Almost all respondents who have used AI indicate that AI usage has been under formal ethics guidelines (99%). Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) say formal guidelines have come in the form of a committee or panel responsible for overseeing the ethical use of AI.

Future opportunities

With an increasing need to be tech advanced to stay competitive, 1 in 2 respondents (50%) identified their businesses as early adopters of digital tools. As a result, accountants are leaning in and planning to invest an average of £30,000 in tech over the next 12 months - a 50% increase from last year’s £21,000 average.

The focus for this investment as accountants looks to the future? Blockchain technology (57%), AI (54%), automation tools (54%), and machine learning (54%).

Continues Nick Williams, "The adoption of new technologies by accountants and bookkeepers is a testament to their ongoing commitment to efficiency. It’s clear that they are eager to minimise administrative tasks in favour of elevating client interactions. At QuickBooks, we’re guided by a customer-centric philosophy that resonates in every aspect of our work. The latest insights affirm that accounting experts share our dedication to prioritising client relationships."

Accountants today are leveraging technology to streamline accounting processes, enhance client services, and stay ahead of the curve. Their adoption of automation, artificial intelligence, and analytics are paving the way for the profession’s continued transformation, which promises advancements robust enough for a rapidly evolving business landscape.

Article made possible by Ayo Bolade-Eyinla of Edelman UK for QuickBooks

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