Learn or be Left Behind – A Message to Desktop Accountants
We have noticed an interesting trend in the past year or so that I think deserves some attention. We have been getting more clients asking for Xero expertise by name. I think it has little to do with our own conscious marketing efforts. Rather, business owners made a decision to use Xero, and their old bookkeepers and accountants simply refused to learn it, so they were fired.
I find this exciting and concerning at the same time. Of course, new business is always exciting. I love that forward thinking business owners see the benefits of cloud accounting (whether Xero or Quickbooks Online).
Quickbooks Desktop’s Dominance in the US Market; Pushback on a Better Way
Presumably experienced bookkeepers and accountants are losing business because of a blatant refusal to learn new software. Not incompetence, but utter unwillingness to evolve. Why?
Accounting professionals who have built a lucrative book of business on QuickBooks Desktop are now entrenched. This trend is not just present when comparing Xero to QuickBooks Online, but exists within the Intuit products as well. Many bookkeepers and CPAs will only use the desktop software, and don’t want to move over to Quickbooks Online (which I personally believe is Intuit’s best product).
Why Make the Switch? From Compliance to Advisor
There are some compelling reasons that it makes sense to learn these new platforms. I am talking to the accountants out there. The first, obvious one, is that you are leaving money on the table. Xero is showing gains in the US, but abroad, it is already the number 1 cloud accounting platform in every western country except the United States. Intuit is pushing their online platform hard as well, and they have a captive audience.
Small businesses are asking for Xero and Quickbooks Online expertise more as cloud accounting continues to become widely accepted. Intuit and Xero are pumping massive resources into getting people on their cloud platforms. As new entrepreneurs start businesses, they will not even know that the old way is an option.
New entrepreneurs will fail to see any reason to use desktop accounting software in the same way an iPhone user would be perplexed if you tried to sell her on an old Nokia brick (you can play snake on it!).
A more important reason is that it’s better for your client. Cloud accounting platforms offer a cleaner, scalable workflow. Connected apps allow you to pull data into accounting from operational apps. Dashboard reporting gives your clients more insight into how they are performing, faster.
Folks are sick of only talking to their accountant once a year at tax time, and hearing radio silence in between. Clients tell me this to my face, constantly. On the contrary, small business owners want responsive bookkeepers and accountants that can offer strategic advice on how to run their company. Those who have experienced the status quo are likely willing to pay a premium to get it. Getting the data right, leveraging automation, and keeping those books current allows you to keep a pulse on the client’s business.
What are your Standards?
We measure our performance by the following standard. A client should be able to call or email us with a specific financial question, and within the same business day (and often within the hour), we should be able to provide them with the accurate, up to date information they need to make a decision.
If you are on a desktop software, waiting for the bank to send you a bank statement to update the books monthly (or even quarterly), I am willing to bet that you cannot maintain that same standard. However, the tech is out there, it is inexpensive, and the education is free.
The Future is Now!
Accounting systems will only get more automated and robust in the near future. The value to your client will no longer be based on data entry and filing returns, but on having the expertise to design custom accounting information systems using connected apps, and taking the role of a strategic small business financial advisor. It is already happening. Now is the time to refresh your workflows. Your clients will thank you.