CPAs not meeting client expectations on technology

Written on Apr 29, 2014

Nearly 90% of small- and medium-sized business owners want their CPA to be proactive with technologies for their business, but only 13.5% think their accountant is an “early adopter” of technology.

This was among the findings of a survey conducted in late January, What SMBs Want from Their Accountant, by the Sleeter Group.

“The data might surprise some accountants as well as SMBs,” the Sleeter Group reported, “because quite often, the difference between what businesses want differs from what they think their CPA wants to do for them, especially in the area of technology consulting.”

Almost two-thirds (72%) of the small-business owners surveyed who have at some point changed their CPA or accounting firm did so at least in part because the firm only gave them reactive, rather than proactive advice.

“Even though most small businesses are generally happy with their accountant, the ever-evolving technology landscape creates complexities for them, and they want their most trusted financial advisor to assist them with these challenges,” said Sleeter Group President Doug Sleeter. "Increasing the proactive consultative approach to business service and technology information is one of the most important factors in improving a firm’s reputation and the strength of its relationships.”

Business owners were interested in receiving more business planning and strategic advice (57%), more tax planning (30%), and better business analytics (21.5%). The survey also explored the importance of customer service and effective communication.

In response to continuing automation of traditional accounting services, such as financial statement and tax prep, the Sleeter Group suggested that accountants need to:
  • Move toward higher value-added services, such as strategic business consulting, strategic technology planning, tax planning, and collaborative accounting services, where both accountant and client can access live data.
  • Educate staff on new- technology and adopt a set of recommended products for clients.
  • Have the ability to collaborate using multiple tools.
  • Develop skills to join systems from multiple vendors.
  • Use and recommend collaborative accounting technologies to improve client engagements.

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