Finance is approaching a transformation. A quick google search on Bitcoin or blockchain should prove that fact. But while Bitcoin and blockchain are making waves at banks, clearing houses, and other massive financial institutions at large, nothing has really changed… yet.
Lurking around the corner is a shift that will change how we send and receive transactions, or at least that’s what we’re led to think will be happening down the road. And while that may be true, there are other technological advances brewing, including increased accessibility to finances, increased portability, and growing data protections.
To ensure that your accounting firm is able to adapt to these future changes and use them to drive success, it’s important that you take a couple of protective measures and future-proof your accounting firm. Here are four ways we think you can secure your firm’s future.
1. Security. Security. Security.
Financial services is the least trusted industry, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. In an industry with little leftover trust from the 2008 financial crisis, security is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. And with the recent Equifax hack, many consumers — and likely your own clients — are worried about the security of their financial data. Your firm needs to do everything it can to secure your client data and protect it from potential threats to regain and retain the trust of your clients.
Secure your client data by implementing data backups, secure storage, encryption, and other data security measures. This includes defining a set process should disaster strike and compromise your client’s personal or financial information. Another way to put clients at ease is to be as transparent with them as possible and allow them easy access to their finances. Clients will feel confident that their finances are safe if they can see that it’s all there.
2. Automate Processes
Invoices. Audits. Bookkeeping. All of these tasks and more have the potential to be automated at accounting firms. Imagine the time and energy you could save your team by introducing automation and eliminating these mundane housekeeping tasks. And before you think this reduces too much actual work, remember that automation frees up your accountants to do more valuable analysis or management.
To implement automation at your firm, take a look at several software vendors that can help automate invoicing or bookkeeping tasks. In addition, there are plenty of vendors who can automate internal-facing work like CRM data automation, relationship intelligence automation, or workflow automation. If you’re ready to take a deeper dive into the waters, artificial intelligence for financial services holds a lot of opportunity for reducing workloads through automation.
3. Move to the Cloud
The cloud is no longer a mythical area hanging in space — it is a virtual and secure storage room that allows you to offload a significant portion of your accounting firm’s IT investment. If you haven’t already, moving your firm’s systems and files onto the cloud holds a host of benefits including increased security, easier upgrades, decreased turnaround times, and better flexibility. And that’s all without mentioning the IT cost and investment you would be saving.
Move your firm’s many files, systems, tools, email, and more onto a secure cloud service to reduce your IT investment and improve your tech infrastructure. This means you will need to look at using cloud-based software like Microsoft OneDrive to store your firm’s files and other cloud-based software services. If you’ve already moved your firm onto the cloud, vet your vendors to ensure that they can be trusted with your sensitive business data.
4. Focus on Client Value
Finance and accounting are complicated worlds that are difficult to navigate. Your unique skillset provides clients with a reassurance that their investments are protected and in smart hands. In today’s finance-skeptic marketplace, it’s important that you focus on the value and benefits you can offer your clients, but your skills alone aren’t the only sources of client value.
Double down on offering value to clients not only with your service offerings but also through technology. Technology has the ability to create more convenient ways for your clients to access their accounts, seek out services, and receive reports or funds. Just take a look at PayPal or Bitcoin. Those services have boomed because of the convenience they offer people. Take a similar approach to your own accounting firm, and you’ll be able to weather any storm.
What’s Next for Financial Services Firms?
The future can be an unpredictable beast. Tame the animal by checking out the top accounting firm statistics that predict big changes in the industry.