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In the last 30 years, every aspect of business has been affected and changed by evolving technology. So why does it feel like you have to go back in time every year when you need to file your annual tax returns?
As information management software opens the door for businesses to optimize and automate necessary but time-consuming tasks while making it possible to work securely from just about anywhere on the planet, many accounting firms are realizing that their traditional practices aren’t their best practices anymore.
The obligation to go into a CPA’s office in person is obsolete. Accounting services are changing for the better. Here’s how:
As an accounting firm’s client list grows, their need for organizational information management increases. Having a platform that allows for simpler client interactions and streamlined workflows helps take what can be a very complicated part of business and makes it more manageable.
As accounting services evolve with new technological capabilities, having software that can help firms stay ahead of trends without sacrificing established best practices is absolutely imperative.
What are account services becoming in the 21st Century? With technology improving year over year and more and more businesses operating on a national or even global scale instead of strictly locally, professional account services have had to adjust.
To think that the same old techniques and tools would be enough to keep up with the speed and scale of business today would be a mistake. A box of receipts and a ten-key isn’t enough anymore. Here are some of the trends that are changing the industry.
If you can make your client’s interactions with your firm seamless and straightforward, you are on the road to success. People want to interface with systems that are easy to use and available for use 24 hours a day.
A client portal that is accessible via web or mobile device and that allows for secure uploading and downloading of documents without a complicated series of steps will work wonders for your business.
Not only will your clients be able to check on the status of the services you provide wherever they are in the world, but you will also be able to gather the documents you need from your clients without running the risk of exposing their private information in an email, trying to navigate a difficult to organize dropbox, or needing to wait for hard copies in the mail.
In conjunction with an easy-to-use client portal, business accounting services rely on centralized file and workflow management.
When uploading and downloading files securely is a feature of your portal, you need somewhere to store and access those documents. As a part of an integrated information management platform, document management software that interfaces with your client portal reduces the number of software tools required to serve a client effectively.
Good document management software also helps automate parts of your accounting services workflows — grabbing relevant figures from uploaded documents to autofill values quickly and accurately.
Whether your firm focuses on small business accounting services or providing accounting services for large, multinational corporations, a centralized information management system helps create standardized, automated workflows for your team. It eliminates the risk of losing important hard copies of tax documents or receipts.
Perhaps the biggest trend in business accounting services is the switch from firms charging by the hour to a subscription model.
This transition is good for service providers because it gives a consistent source of income, and it is great for clients because they don’t have to watch the clock if they have pressing accounting issues.
When combined with the trends toward client portals and centralized information management services, the subscription model gives clients better access to their accounting services firm, makes communication between accountants and clients simpler, and encourages that communication by removing any potential client fear of being overcharged for interactions with their accountant.
The subscription model benefits accounting service providers as well. Instead of the boom-and-bust of hourly charges that increase dramatically around quarterly tax deadlines but fade away in the interim, subscriptions offer a consistent income that is much easier to plan budgets around.
When you look at the direction the tax and accounting services industry is heading, every firm will need a web-based platform to build web and mobile responsive sites that connect accounting firms and their clients.
That is exactly what M-Connect is.
Not all client portals are created equal. Portals created through M-Connect offer mobile-friendly functionality alongside customizable branding options in conjunction with a focus on operational utility.
M-Files performs well with many leading accounting and tax services tools, such as CCH AXCESS.
Offering clients an interface that allows them to upload their documents securely for tax services, client account services, internal projects, assurance, and even special projects like PPP management while getting automatically generated status updates is a key to expanding your business.
A client portal built with M-Connect gives you the ability to share up-to-the-minute updates on project status. It also gives external stakeholders access to current versions of documents as well as updates on task lists and creates a way for them to comment on anything they have questions about.
That means your interactions with your clients are more transparent, and the communication between your team and your clients is clear.
Integration of a document management system like M-Files allows clients to seamlessly access their metadata to obtain any specific information they need from their financial documents quickly and easily.
The version control on documents and the creation of a searchable central hub for document storage makes collecting information in the case of an audit simple. You don’t need to send someone running to find a physical box full of files and receipts — the box and the files that would go in it can be stored electronically now.
Accounting and tax services are tailored to each client. Every business and every person has unique needs, after all. But with advances in document management software and the ever-evolving world of finance, automation can be a valuable tool.
For example, automatically transferring—or auto-populating—values from documents from the end of the fiscal year 2020 to the first documents tracking finances in the fiscal year 2021 saves time and helps maintain continuity with the client.
The automation afforded by M-Connect and M-Files allows clients the ability to generate graphs and reports from the information they can access through their client portal. And with a subscription model, they won’t have to worry about paying on a per-use basis. They will always have access to their own data.
That also means that your clients will be able to track the status of their tax prep documents on their own time without pulling your team away from their work. The client can set automatic alerts to let them know their progress.
Incorporating electronic signature tools streamlines the process even further. Integrating a tool like HelloSign allows notifications about required signatures to be delivered to the relevant parties through their M-Connect portal.
Automated notifications through a client-facing portal are important because emails can get lost or redirected into spam folders. Snail mail takes time and can be lost by any number of people handling it.
Having signature notifications automatically show up in the client portal allows the client to sign their company’s documents as soon as possible, which allows for quicker tax filing or quicker payroll approval.
In fact, by taking advantage of the capabilities of M-Connect alongside a strong document management system like M-Files, you can create a simple-to-navigate pathway between your accounts receivable management services and your tax and accounting services.
The world of business never stops evolving. In order to stay relevant and serve as many clients as possible, accounting services firms need to stay ahead of the evolutionary curve.
That means looking at market trends and incorporating them into your plans. Platforms like M-Connect are tailor-made to bring your business in line with current market trends.
And the way M-Connect interacts with document management software will help ensure that you have a technological base from which to leap forward and lead the way as the accounting services industry evolves even further from where it is now.
M-Connect has a suite of features that can be customized to suit your business and your client’s brand, with new capabilities being developed all the time. Business never stops. Your technology shouldn’t either. Connect with TEAM IM today.