The COVID-19 pandemic is transforming just about every facet of how we think about and conduct business. As we all stay in isolation, it is essential to anticipate the changes and impacts a new, remote-connected lifestyle will have on you and your small business. In this article, we list the top 4 things you should expect from your accountant (and what they expect from you!) to succeed in a post-COVID business world.
Part of a larger trend
Modern accounting practices have been slowly shifting toward contactless solutions for some years already. Contrary to what some may think, COVID-19 did not introduce contactless work – it just accelerated how quickly we adapt to this new form of collaboration, and it is here to stay.
Still, many small-business owners justifiably worry about what contactless accounting means for their growing business. As always, there should be a relationship between an accountant and their client. For this relationship to succeed, it must be built on trust.
Can trust be built without meeting in person? Absolutely!
One factor essential for successful trust-building is open-mindedness; this goes both ways, as both you and your accountant are working to adapt and reap the benefits of a changing financial landscape to best benefit your business.
Being able to consider and implement new ways of collaboration goes a long way. For example, why prefer coming in-person to sign a document, if you could do the same online? Cloud solutions used by modern accounting companies such as youraccounting.cloud are secured and efficient, so you don’t have to worry about your private data being lost or compromised.
Habits can be tough to break, and changing the way you interact with your accountant can be a jarring change. Going in with an open mind can provide the vital difference in making your transition successful and beneficial.
So, the next time you think of requesting an in-person meeting, ask yourself: why not meet digitally?
Remote-collaboration platforms and other advancements in accounting offer so much more than just small time-saving benefits: they can completely transform how you think about your business’ finances.
With online accounting, you are more connected with your data and your accountant than ever before. Both you and your accountant can enjoy access to better and more efficient tools, which transforms the role and impact your accountant plays in your business.
It may be difficult to figure out exactly what you should expect from all these changes. How can they benefit your business? Below we discuss the 4 things we think you should expect from your accountant.
1. Your accountant should be a technology expert
With contactless accounting becoming the norm, you should expect your accountant to be familiar with the collaborative tools available in the market. The ability to video conference meetings and screen share information can make what would otherwise be a lengthy, in-person trip to your accountant a quick and easy 5-minute meeting – but only if your accountant knows their way around the software!
You should expect your accountant to not only know how to use the software but be able to assist you in navigating it. Leveraging these tools to their full potential can not only save you time, but it can also enable you faster and more reliable access to your financial information.
Imagine you need to make a decision about a large business purchase required for the completion of a major project. Traditionally, you would have to call your accountant by phone and have them retrieve your financial information. Even then, since accountants work retroactively, your accountant may not have immediate access to updated financial information. This slow and delayed exchange of information can cost your business time and money by preventing you from being able to make an informed decision.
Now consider if your accountant uses a cloud technology platform. First, you would have constant access to live and updated financial information – no need to call your accountant, just access your account from your smartphone or computer and see all the updated details, including records and current financial standing.
Still need to speak with your accountant? With collaborative platform integration, you can instantly reach your accountant, and have a screenshared conversation with them so you can easily follow along. You should expect to be able to see your accountant’s availability and book meetings in seconds, minimizing the time you spend on administrative tasks.
Further, you should expect your accountant to make the remote experience as seamless as an in-person meeting. From being able to simultaneously edit the same file to having access to a booking platform integrated with whichever calendar app you use (after all, we all have a time management app we prefer), your accountant and the platform they use should make the process of moving online easier, not more difficult.
This is where youraccounting.cloud truly excels – we are an easy to learn and even easier to use platform which seamlessly integrates all the financial services your business needs in one page. Learn more here.
2. Your accountant should be more than a bean-counter: they are your personal consultant
With the advent of new accounting software and the constantly changing world of financial regulations, the basic role of accountants is rapidly changing. You should expect your accountant to do more than just consolidate your accounts and keep record of your statements.
Your accountant should be someone who helps you manage your company by providing expert advice when you need it. Contactless accounting through cloud platforms like youraccounting.cloud provides unprecedented access to your accountant for such advice.
Remember: your accountant is an expert in your company’s finances - they look after your bottom-line and help you save money. You should be able to rely on your accountant to reach out to you with advice as they look after your business, and equally should be able to reach them whenever you need to ask a question or get some help.
Naturally, this can be daunting in a remote environment – but it does not have to be. You should expect your accountant to make a commitment to your business and act on it. This means they should make their time as flexible as possible to accommodate your lifestyle, and they should be handling your work directly (otherwise, how could they be an expert on your business?).
Finally, you should expect to know when and what work is done on your files. A good accountant will ensure complete transparency and accountability, and leverage cloud tools to accomplish this task. Being able to see in real time what work is being done on your file not only allows you peace of mind, but ensures you have constant access to everything you need to know at your fingertips.
3. Your accountant should be able to handle digital files safely
Digital tools can make uploading and sharing financial information easier and faster than ever before. You no longer must haul a shoebox of receipts to your accountant once a month, as you can just take scans or even phone pictures of receipts as they come in. Your accountant then records the information in real time and files it away as needed.
But the digital landscape comes with its own set of risks. You should expect your accountant to not only be aware of these risks, but also know how to minimize them. In this case, the best approach is simply to ask: inquire about what security features and methods are in place to ensure your business’s data is safe and secure. How is data stored, and where? Is there any third-party software used to ensure privacy and security? Who has access to your information?
If your accountant cannot reliably answer these questions, you should consider it a major red flag. Leaked or mishandled financial information can hurt your business in a number of ways, and it is always easier to prevent this than to resolve an incident.
On the other hand, with the right tools and in the right hands, digitally stored information can be just as safe as a physical copy, if not safer. You should expect your accountant to know this, and take the security and privacy of your information seriously as a consequence.
4. Your accountant should be your financial representative
Finally, you should expect your accountant to be the go-to point of contact for all matters relating to your finances. “Leave it to the experts,” as the saying goes. There should be a relationship between you and your accountant where they take over the responsibility of dealing with the CRA, banks, and any other institutions related to your businesses’ finances. This accomplishes two things:
First, it ensures that important matters are resolved by expert care. Letting your accountant handle inquiries from the CRA, for example, adds an extra layer of protection, since your accountant has all the requisite information to accurately and effectively address the query.
Second, it saves your time by offloading the lengthy process of compiling the requisite documentation which banks require you to come up with. Retaining an accountant who can handle and organize information for you quickly will not only save time, but also ensure that major transactions are completed as quickly as they can be, preventing delays which could otherwise hurt your business.
Learn more about contactless accounting
We started this article by saying that the shift to remote work is an ongoing trend, only accelerated (but not instigated) by the global pandemic. Staying on top of changing technologies and how they affect your business can be a difficult but vital task - and we are here to help. Check out our blog to learn more or reach out to us with any questions here.