During its long history, the accounting profession has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity to adopt and adapt to changes in business practices, statutory regulations, and technology. The flexibility and technical proficiency this demands is part of the professional DNA. In the digital age, however, the speed of change makes keeping pace difficult, even for the most well-resourced and tech-savvy firm. The ways in which CPAs and their clients connect, collaborate, and communicate are being reshaped and these strategies are in need of a reset for the evolving digital age.
CPAs to take on new role as App integrators
‘Will My Client Use an App?’
The increase in popularity of Apps is one of the key changes taking place and they are now used for all kinds of business activity. According to the App Annie 2017 Retrospective, each user is spending nearly 1.5 months in Apps per year and App downloads exceeded 175 billion in 2017.
Despite the fact that mobile penetration in the U.S. stands at 95% (Pew Research Center) and that Apps take up so much time, it may surprise you to hear that fewer than 1% of CPAs have a solution to engage and communicate with clients and prospects on their Smartphones and Tablets.
We frequently get asked the question; “Will my client use an App?” Our response is always, “It’s your clients that are driving the demand for easier engagement through Apps.” There are no two ways about it – Apps offer accountants an opportunity to effectively manage relationships by extending contact throughout the client journey.
Giving a powerful single App to a client for free that acts as a single contact point for all things financial sends out a very strong message that the CPA is embracing change and wants to interact with clients in the way most businesses prefer – on their Smartphones.
The App creates a connection between the firm and the client at all times, with clients’ own tax data and key financial dates stored within and with access to useful tools such as Logbook tracking for tracking and submitting mileage and easier expense and income management. There are quick links to the IRS and all the main cloud accounting programs and an intuitive control panel reveals precisely who has downloaded the App.
Own That Digital Relationship
As the impact of the shift to digital becomes clearer, one of the most important questions is, “Who owns the client digital relationship?” CPAs will need to protect their position as the most trusted advisor, and rather than giving away control of the data associated with Cloud bookkeeping and accounting software, they should adopt a strategy that puts them right at the centre of that client relationship.
It is not unusual to see in the region of between 40 and 50 individual Apps on a home screen, and as these App stacks and App Add-on communities grow, the role of an App integrator – the CPA – is set to become increasingly critical.
The potential to take on this new role by bringing everything into one single environment – the firm’s own App – will simplify the client’s life and add more value. With a proactive digital strategy, the firm can choose which Apps to make part of their clients’ Add-on community and, as a result, strengthen the relationship.
‘Today’s Apps Roll Up Tools, Features and Content’
Embracing new technology is just the start of the journey and a change of mindset is essential. Once the App has been built, it will need to constantly evolve.
Stand-alone Apps are already making way for App platforms that make it easier for CPAs to own the digital client relationship. The App economy is evolving fast, and as a developer that specializes in creating Apps for the accounting profession, we have invested heavily to develop a powerful new future-proofed platform that will put users ahead of the curve.
These new App platforms are comparable to integrated suites of practice software that roll up tools, features, and content – and give CPAs the ability to automate marketing, send push notification messages that land directly on their clients’ home screens, and collect data using the camera on the Smartphone. The overall result is a more productive and efficient firm that has adapted to the changing world.
New App platforms are delivering a compelling opportunity for all CPAs to become ever more present in their clients’ day-to-day lives and cement the firm’s position as its’ clients’ trusted anchor point in the mobile world. It’s one not to be missed.
Since 2013, MyFirmsApp has focused on the development of bespoke Apps and there are now 250,000 businesses relying on them for direct contact with their accountants. While bespoke Apps are right for many of our customers, there are some firms we speak to that tell us they would like an App that is not quite so tailored and can be live faster.
To give these firms more choice, we have invested heavily in the development of a new platform, which we believe delivers the next generation of future proofed custom Apps for professional firms like accountants and CPAs. Access to this world-class platform gives the accountant a unique combination of content, tools, features, and integration — with hundreds of variables, plus the option to upgrade to specific modules to customize the user experience.
The new OneApp platform provides firms with an App branded with their individual logo and in their own color scheme while still providing clients quick links to their chosen accounting program. They also get access to a host of useful tools including a mileage tracker and receipt manager. While making life easier for the client, an App control panel gives the accountant immediate access to user data to see exactly how the App is performing thanks to live, real time download statistics.
The landscape is changing at an extraordinary rate. Today it’s even more important to have a proven solution that connects accountants with their clients and brings together all the individual components, Apps, logins and portals into a centralized place that’s easily recognizable in the firm’s brand.
We believe that giving accountants and bookkeepers more choice regarding which App they choose to employ is the natural next step. The opportunities are huge and the level of engagement made possible through an App can only result in more contact with customers, increased customer satisfaction, and a higher lifetime value.