James Solomons

Accounting, Business & Technology; Advocate, Entrepreneur & Educator


February 2014

Quote of the week….

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life” – Arthur Ashe

From Accountant to Business Advisor – Market your Firm in the Cloud

From Accountant to Business Advisor – Market your Firm in the Cloud.

A very interesting article from the WorkflowMax blog. Quite a detailed look at how the traditional accounting firm can and should make the move to become a “firm of the future” to avoid becoming stale and out of date.

It opens by challenging what the role of the accountant will be if and when automation takes away much of what a traditional accountant does. What is a traditional accountant you ask… is one who relies upon the compliance driven model to bring business to their door year after year. What will happen when business owners realise that many of the cloud accounting applications now coming onto the market will allow them to look after this compliance process themselves ?

As I have noted many times before in my articles, the traditional accountant must change and begin to build a true advisory business using the smart technology available and deliver it to these business owners in an efficient and effective manner. This is where they will be able to add value to their clients. This will allow them to use the business advisory skills they have acquired over the years and not simply be data entry clerks, filling out forms and basically being a middle man between businesses and the tax department. This will allow them to run a real business.

The article is actually a road map or action plan that many accounting firms could use to kick start their transformation.

Quote of the week

“Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing” – Leo Buscaglia

Accounting industry technology trends – a collection of articles from the past month

As there are many articles being written each and every day on the disruption occurring in the accounting industry thanks to technology shifts I have decided to collate and post a select collection of them each month and provide some commentary on them.

Four this past month have really focused on what is happening to the role of accountants and how it is rapidly changing.

It is obvious that the change is driven by the technology now available. Automation is making the data entry process easier and quicker and even non-existent in many cases. This we all know.

But what about the human element ? Part of the change is coming from clients demanding that their accountants start utilising this technology and so the “traditional” accountant is adapting as best as they can to meet this shift in consumer demand often from a self preservation point of view more than anything else.

But the other human element is the tech savvy accountant creating the modern practice from scratch or re-engineering their existing firm to become a modern practice. Taking the time to brand themselves as “cloud accountants” and using this as a point of difference in their marketing to attract those business owners and clients of other firms whose accountant hasn’t responded to the market shift.

Here they are:-

Why an algorithm wants your highly skilled job”. Talks generally about how technology could take jobs away from humans…and accountants have a 94% probability of being replaced by computers !

And the next….

“A new breed of accounting firm”. Lucy Danon from Xero in the UK describes the shift she is seeing happening in the traditionally conservative profession in the UK, something that is being replicated around the globe.

And one focusing on our friends at the ATO

“ATO to Automate 4.5 Million Individual Tax Returns, Starting from 2014”. BoxFreeIT’s editor Sholto Macpherson reports on comments made by the ATO on its plans to liberate individual tax payers from any significant burden at tax time. ie, auto filing of tax returns.

My specifc thoughts on this…… How will this impact the profession? Of these 4.5million returns, 2 million are prepared by Tax Agents. At even a cheap $100 per return, that is a lot of lost revenue to the industry. How will it react ? I think it will put downward pressure on fees as those accountants/tax agents who no longer have individuals to focus on start offering cut price corporate tax return preparation services in an effort to keep their heads above water. Many small businesses who see no value with their higher priced accountant will take up this cheap service, leaving larger firms with falling revenues. The only way for larger firms to combat this is to use technology to streamline their processes but also to be able to provide higher value advisory services in a more cost efficient manner to their clients so that they do not lose these clients to cheaper service providers.

And the last one from industry commentator Dennis Howlett @dahowlett who I did a video interview with in 2012 which also appeared on the Xero Blog

“Time to reboot the accounting profession”. The article looks at how the new players in the market are disrupting the incumbents. However it goes on the challenge if the new vendors can sustain this disruption.

All the articles support the overriding theory that change is occurring thanks to technology and detail how different parts of the market/industry from consumer, to supplier, to regulator are responding.

Check back mid March for my next collection of articles and my thoughts on their content.

Surface Pro 2 – 2 weeks in….

2 weeks in and the adoption of the Surface Pro 2 as my single device for all my computing needs has been a great move. Whilst everything (or almost everything) I use these days is in the cloud and was available across all my devices (Office PC, Home PC, Laptop and iPad) having a single device just feels right.

Being able to pack the device into my work bag and take it with me to see clients whilst on the road or to unplug it from the docking station and take it into a meeting in the office boardroom or in the cafe downstairs seems to provide me with something I can only liken to a child and their favourite toy or blanket. It gives me a sense of comfort or security !

Setting up my Windows 8.1 start page with my favourite and most used applications sped up the time it takes me to go between them, even if they are already open.

Being able to use Miracast technology to project without cables to the big screen on the wall has also been great (even though I could do this already with Apple TV and AirPlay and my iPad previously). Using OneNote (which is now back in my list of most used apps) gives me a virtual whiteboard to capture ideas in a boardroom or group environment for all to see because the Pen that comes with the Surface Pro is fantastic !

It has just been great to get such easy connectivity to everything in our office’s Windows environment from a Microsoft device, something which I had only ever experienced with such ease previously in an Apple environment.

So right now it was a good move ! Stay tuned for another update in another fortnight !

Quote of the week…

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” – Unknown….but a personal favourite 🙂

A simple but effective way to teach our kids about tax ! Found it and had to share for obvious reasons ! Sorry Georgia and Harrison :)


The new toy !

After a long wait my Surface Pro 2 arrived. It has now replaced my office PC and iPad and laptop. All linked to the office network and screens via the toshiba dynadock.

Will be interesting to see if it improves my productivity, having one device.


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