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Wednesday
Feb032016

Growth Opportunities Outweigh Challenges for Accountants

This post was originally published on AccountingWEB. Click here for the full post from Dr. Chandra Bhansali.

Before the onslaught of tax season begins in earnest, accountants should think not only about how they’re going to survive their busiest time of year, but also about generating a perennial revenue stream beyond this tax season.

A recent survey of 301 managing partners of small accounting firms (firms with five or fewer equity partners and a maximum of $10 million in annual revenues) found that seven out of ten managing partners expect it will be more difficult for their firms to make money in 2016 than it was in 2015.  However, opportunities to make money may not be so difficult to come by.

While taking on additional clients is a viable option to increase revenue, a better option is to offer additional services to existing clients. Most accountants don’t know what additional services to offer, and many think they don’t have the time to handle additional services. These accountants should be thinking critically about streamlining their internal processes to accommodate a larger volume of work, because significant opportunities for offering additional services to their existing clients do exist.

A new survey by AccountantsWorld found that 25 percent of the small business owners surveyed said they’d be at least “somewhat interested” in transferring more of their accounting work to their accountants. So, with one out of every four small business owners open to an expanded relationship with their accountants, there is no better time for firms to be reaching out to current or prospective clients to expand their slate of services before the tax season crush.

The survey also found that when a small business employs an internal bookkeeper, interest in outsourcing accounting work increases to 45 percent. In addition, the survey found that the bigger the company, the more likely they are to be interested in outsourcing more of their accounting work.

By encouraging existing clients to expand the services they use, firms can easily create more revenue streams for their practices with minimal lift. Firms should also consider adding payroll services for existing clients.

Since payroll is so highly intertwined with clients’ overall expenses and tax liabilities, it's a natural fit for accountants to also manage this function for their clients. If you haven’t considered offering payroll services because of the perception that payroll is an “all pain, no gain” service, consider that thousands of accountants have turned payroll into a virtually painless, highly profitable service. How? By using professional, robust cloud-based payroll systems created exclusively for accountants, like the award-winning Payroll Relief solution.

Knowing that additional ways of raising the bottom line exist, the next step is to find the resources needed to add those services. The trick for accountants to offer additional services without adding any staff is to focus on streamlining. By reducing the time spent on existing services and finding ways to provide additional services with minimal time and effort, adding services without adding staff becomes possible. The right professional cloud solutions can help you accomplish both.

Many accountants know that the primary source of wasted time in their practices is dealing with errors that clients make. Using a truly professional accounting system can change that, once and for all. How? A professional system lets accountants work collaboratively with their clients and gives them the ability to customize the system for each client, to ensure clients access only the functions they can perform. This enables accountants to drastically reduce client errors and regain significant time.  

Professional accounting systems like Accounting Power also make it much faster and easier to produce customizable financial statements, and accountants can take advantage of time-saving features, such as bank feeds that reduce the data entry time needed for the write-up work they perform for clients who write manual checks - time they can use to offer complete accounting services and payroll services.

 

Cloud-based professional accounting systems can also help accountants offer payroll and complete accounting services faster and easier by making it possible for accountants’ staff to do what clients’ staff or their external bookkeepers currently do – only faster, easier and more accurately and without leaving the office. Cloud-based payroll solutions created exclusively for accountants have also introduced a high level of automation in payroll processing, allowing accountants to offer highly profitable payroll services with minimal staff time.

These systems make it possible for accountants to generate significant additional revenues by offering payroll and complete accounting services without adding any stress to their staff. In fact, streamlining work flow and eliminating redundancies and unnecessary work actually increases staff satisfaction. 

Professional accounting systems like Accounting Power make it easy to manage the financial health of your small business clients, thanks to customizable alerts, snapshots, financial ratios and a configurable dashboard.

As a bonus, cloud-based professional accounting solutions include analytical tools to monitor client key performance indicators (KPIs) and cash flow with minimal effort. These value-added services provide additional sources of increased profits while strengthening client relationships.  

Your clients are looking for you to offer them the additional services they need - services that you can easily offer. What are you waiting for?

Wednesday
Dec232015

AccountantsWorld Partners with AGN International North America

AccountantsWorld is proud to announce that we're entering into a two-year partnership agreement with AGN International North America, a regional subsidiary of AGN International. As a part of the partnership, AGN International North America members will enjoy a 20 percent discount on AccountantsWorld's Power Practice System bundle for the duration of the relationship.

"Partnering with AGN International North America will enable us to deliver our solutions to some of the most respected accounting organizations, providing them with the ability to harness the vast potential of the cloud to move their firms forward," said AccountantsWorld co-founder and CEO, Chandra Bhansali. "Our Power Practice System includes cloud solutions for bookkeeping, trial balance, document management, client portals, practice management and a website builder, providing virtually everything an accountant needs to manage and grow their practice."

AGN NA is part of AGN International, Ltd., and is one of the world's leading associations of independent certified public accounting and consulting firms. It has 187 accounting firm members in 89 countries throughout the world. AGN sets rigorous criteria for admission to the association and provides outstanding continuing professional education and intra-member collaboration to help all member firms serve clients with excellence and maintain adherence to the highest professional standards.

"AGN International North America counts some of the most technologically savvy and progressive accounting firms as our members, and we look forward to providing our members with the innovative solutions AccountantsWorld has created," said Rita Hood, Regional Director for AGN International North America.

Thursday
Dec172015

AccountantsWorld selected as Finalist For 2015 Cloud Awards

AccountantsWorld is proud to announce that we've been chosen as a finalist in the 2015-2016 Cloud Awards Program in the category Best HR / Payroll Solution!

 

With awards for excellence and innovation in cloud computing, the Cloud Computing awards program accepts entries from across the globe, including the US, Canada, Australasia and EMEA. Entries are accepted from organizations of any size and include start-ups and government bodies. The program is now in its fifth year.

"It's a truly special honor for AccountantsWorld to be recognized in the 2015-16 Cloud Awards. To make the shortlist against such competition illustrates the level of service and commitment to our customers we strive for and achieve," said Dr. Chandra Bhansali, AccountantsWorld CEO and co-founder. "We are excited to continue to support the accounting profession by providing accountants with innovative tools and resources to better serve their clients and make their practices more rewarding and profitable."

Award winners will be announced in January 2016. Click here to see the full list of finalists for 2015.

 

Monday
Nov302015

The 4 P's of Succeeding in the Cloud

From our close interaction with thousands of accountants, we have learned that most accountants:

  • Want to begin to migrate to the cloud, if they haven't already done so; and
  • Share some apprehension about the potential risks of cloud migration.

Another fact we uncovered is that many accountants are unaware of the tremendous benefits the cloud offers to accountants.  Making the 3 Ps (Product, Process, and Solution Partner) your guiding factors can minimize your risk and maximize your rewards, but the most important factor for harnessing the cloud is the fourth P – your Passion. Your passion for your practice will lead you to find innovative ways to harness the cloud to revamp your practice in ways you never thought possible.

Product

Obviously, the first thing necessary to harness the cloud is to choose software that both takes advantage of the remarkable capabilities of the cloud to overcome the challenges you currently face and creates new opportunities for you. This requires a completely fresh approach to software design.

For example, with accounting software, Do-it-Yourself (DIY) solutions, created for small businesses, have dominated accounting on the desktop. Despite the limitations of this kind of software, and the problems this approach created for accountants, DIY software was the only viable option on the desktop. Most accounting software producers, including Intuit, Xero, and Sage, have chosen to use the same DIY approach for their cloud solutions.

Other solution providers, including AccountantsWorld and Thomson Reuters, have taken a different approach. They have created solutions that take full advantage of the one of the most important capabilities of the cloud: collaboration.  These solution providers have created professional accounting systems that include not only powerful trial balance and financial reporting, but also complete bookkeeping capabilities. In these systems, accountants work collaboratively with their clients while retaining the power to customize their services to best serve each client’s needs. This unique approach makes it easier for accountants to offer complete accounting services.

When choosing a software product, be sure to evaluate solutions based on both models - the DIY model and the new accountant-focused, collaborative professional model - to see which offers more benefits for your practice.

Processes

On the desktop, integration between different applications makes data exchange between applications seamless. The cloud takes integration between applications to a higher level, making it possible to use integration between different applications to greatly streamline your workflow. For example, with the seamless integration of a cloud-based payroll system like Payroll Relief with Excel spreadsheets, bank ACH processing systems, and IRS and state e-filing and tax payment systems, payroll processing becomes highly efficient and virtually painless, with no compliance headaches. This has enabled thousands of accountants to offer highly profitable payroll services to their clients. Similarly, integrating accounting systems with smart phones, document management systems, and bank ACH systems makes offering bill payment services easy, efficient, and profitable.

To take advantage of these capabilities, you will need to re-evaluate and re-engineer your own internal processes, and to align your business model with technological advances. Fixed fee and value pricing have become the new norm for maximizing firm profitability and client satisfaction. 

When evaluating cloud solutions, make sure to analyze how well the solutions you consider can streamline your workflow and processes to increase efficiency and productivity.

Partner

Accountants know how important having the right partner can be for a firm. Having the right solutions partner is just as important for the success of your firm.

For many accounting and payroll solution providers, your small business clients are their primary customers, and accountants are only secondary customers. However, there are solution providers whose only customers are accountants, and who are focused on accountants’ needs.

When evaluating cloud solutions, it is important to factor in your potential solution partner’s long-term commitment to your success in your decision-making process.

We hope you’ve found this short guide useful for your cloud strategy. Please contact me with any additional questions.

 

About the author

 

Dr. Chandra Bhansali (CBhansali@AccountantsWorld.com) is the Co-Founder and CEO of AccountantsWorld – a leader in cloud solutions for accountants. AccountantsWorld offers innovative solutions for accounting, payroll processing, practice management, and much more. AccountantsWorld has helped thousands of accountants revamp their practices by harnessing the cloud. Learn more at AccountantsWorld.com.

Monday
Nov022015

Marketing Tips For the Busy Accountant

This post has been adapted from the AccountantsWorld Expert Webinar presented by Div Bhansali. Click here to download the full webinar presentation.

 

Most accountants are very busy people. Most accountants would also like to attract more prospective clients.

So how do you reconcile those two realities? Is it possible to succesfully market your accounting practice in a productive, time-efficient way? Yes - and this post will show you how.

Here are some concrete steps you can take to better market your accounting firm. Each of these tactics can be completed at your own pace, and none require more than an hour or two to get started.

(Note: Any companies that I reference below are based on my personal experiences or those of colleagues I trust. None have compensated me or AccountantsWorld for the mention.)

 

1. Maximize your local presence

if I asked you what adjectives describe you and your accounting firm, you might say "dependable", "high-integrity", or "trustworthy". Great. But here's another one: you’re also a LOCAL business. That’s not to say all of your clients are local – but rather to say geography matters. So when when it comes to marketing, you want to make sure you’re maximizing your home-court advantage. So how do we do that? Start with your local online presence.

Percentage of consumers who use the Internet to research products or services in their local area: 97%. 

 

 

 Let's start with search results on Google and Bing, since that's where so many prospective clients will be looking for a firm like yours. In search results like the one shown above, two critical things to get right are your ratings (usually represented by stars) and your contact information. Step one: make sure you're listed correctly on Google. Just go to Google's business page, claim your business, and verify that your business listing is correct and up-to-date.

So why is this so important? First, because Google is ubiquitous. They do search, they publish local contact info and directions, they publish reviews, and they publish Google+ pages. And they’re a dominant player in each of those areas.

The second reason to manage this data is that everything on Google is integrated. It may take you 20-30 minutes to get listed on Google (or update your listing), but after that your information immediately propagates on every Google property, and on every device that people might be searching for you on.

 

 

Step two: ensure that you're listed everywhere else. Now that you're set on Google, you can go to every other major online media and get your business verified... or you can use an aggregation service like Moz Local.

Moz Local scans about a dozen different online directories and sites, from Bing to Foursquare, and will tell you exactly where you have complete information and where you’re missing info. And then they’ll automatically complete that info for you everywhere, and provide great reporting to boot. If you’re OK with spending $84 to get listed everywhere, go to Moz. Otherwise, you can do it for free manually.

2. Get authentic client reviews

 

 

It's a great idea to ask your satisfied clients to write an online review about you on Yelp or Angie's List. However, it's NOT OK to tell them what to say. Both of these sites have sophisticated algorithms to detect when multiple reviews are using exactly the same language. Encourage your clients to describe your service in their own authentic words.

3. Revamp your printed materials

Business cards and brochures serve a different purpose than your website.

Business cards are most often being given to existing clients, or to other people who already have had a conversation with you. So you want to use them to extend your reach. Your cards should include a referral request - something along the lines of “If you love our service, please tell your network. Then tell us!”. Also make sure to list all of your social media accounts on your card. 

As far as card printing services, I use MOO for my own business, because their card stock and print quality are superb. (People comment frequently on how nice my cards are, which seems like a great way to start a conversation.) Vistaprint is also a solid option - it's less expensive, and still pretty good quality.

Brochures are different, because they are often being read by people who don't necessarily know much about you yet. Two tips for brochures:

  • List the benefits offered by your firm first, and the specific functions you provide second. This approach builds trust more quickly.
  • Have a clear call to action. Whether it's your phone number, website, or social media page, make it clear what you would like people to do after reading your brochure.

Ready to see the remaining tips to market your practice efficiently, including email newsletters, your website, and the most important source for paid leads? Click here for the full recording.