The bookkeeping game is starting to change – be sure you aren’t left on the station when the train leaves.

While you don’t need to start slapping the panic button, it is not a stretch to say you need to be mindful of an evolving profession and how you fit into the picture in the coming years.

1)  Bookkeeping Practices are evolving…

The software led digitisation of our world is having an overwhelming impact on industries of all shapes and sizes. When was the last time you did real work offline? Are your ‘shoebox’ clients rising in number or falling?

When it comes to bookkeeping’s place in this digital revolution, we’re seeing major changes in numerous ways –  increasing client demands, the rise of the jack-of-all-trades finance professional, and even how quickly jobs need to be turned around.

To adapt to these changes and ensure your business thrives, bookkeeping and accounting professionals need to adopt future-first thinking mindset.

You will need to embrace the fact that change is inevitable and seek out new avenues to widen your offering while streamlining your day-to-day tasks.

2) Key changes affecting the bookkeeping industry

Enter any modern office and you’ll see how the workplace has changed in just a few short years. See anyone without a PC? The rise of internet-enabled tools means businesses are more fast-paced than ever.

The age of the dynamic workforce

This evolution of the modern workplace is having a major impact on the bookkeeping and financial advisory industry in particular – not just in Australia but internationally.

In fact, a December 2018 IBISWorld Industry Report believes this is due to an

“increas[ing] demand for a global approach to accounting, financial and tax advice from the industry”.

The report claims that the effect of globalisation on the industry means firms have to keep up with global trends, stating:

“over the five years to 2018, demand for audit, tax, advisory and other accounting-related services has increased”.

Rise of on-demand workforces

The gig economy is the new norm. According to Ai Group Economics Research, around 2.6 million Australians were employed on a casual basis in 2018, while another 1.3 million were self-employed or sole traders.

Accountants Daily puts this dramatic shift down to technology:

“New technology platforms are enabling greater access to short-term, on-demand contract work, giving workers increased flexibility to do the work they want, when they want.”

Access to Skype, Slack, Mobile 4G and the rise of the digital nomad means you will be serving new types of customers with new ways of reporting.

Changing workplace flexibility

It is exactly this flexibility that allows a distributed workforce to pick and choose where – and when – they want to work. Businesses have to accommodate these needs, especially when they are trying to attract top talent.

For bookkeeping practices to thrive in this complex environment, they will need workflow management software that can account for this increased mobility.

The same changes may well be happening in your own practice – are you personally ready to adopt flexible working from your bookkeepers and general staff?

Shifts in small business expectations

More so than internal drivers, it appears firms revise their business models according to the shifting expectations of clients and assorted small business customers.

“Rather than boutique practices that focus on business tax, everyday Australians are demanding more from their bookkeepers – including cloud and software advice, loans, advice and legal documentation.” – Sam Allert

Cloud software and the processing of this data is the norm, so start preparing for a lack of desktop and shoebox customers.

Practices that fail to adapt to the changing needs of their clientele may soon find their customer base looking a little thin.

3) New roles within bookkeeping practices

Depending on how far your practice plans to diversify its offering, you may need to consider hiring for a number of new roles within your team, or up skill current staff to transition to new positions. These include but are not limited to:

The Advisor

The role of an advisor has expanded. It now incorporates being a leader, embracing cloud and automation technology, enabling more strategic engagement with clients and compliance within the practice.

There is an excellent opportunity for bookkeepers to re-position themselves as ‘cloud advisors‘. When a client starts using cloud services, they will need immediate and ongoing support.

Bookkeepers are a natural fit for this position as they are savvy with business processes, masters of the specifics of accounting software, and are absolutely across the details of a client’s business. Take the opportunity to provide setup services, training, ongoing support and process advice.

The Specialist

Specialist services are a niche market and include employees with specialised expertise such as financial planners and business tax advice experts. Practices that bring these services in-house open themselves up to a wider audience and create opportunities for cross-departmental learning.

The Data and IT expert

Data analysis is nothing new, but its influence in a business’ ongoing success has been heightened by the rise of financial technologies. For organisations that collect and house huge swathes of data, they need that information processed to derive useful insights for future decision-making. While this has been traditionally outsourced, bringing a data analyst in-house can speed up time to receive insights. Having someone generally IT savvy is also a huge plus in today’s cloud and software driven world – you can’t afford systems to go down and neither can your clients.

4) New Partner Services

A major way you can diversify your services and shore up revenue streams is to partner with companies that provide additional services.

Business Loans

To offer your clients enhanced business services and earn commission yourself, there is a growing number of small business loan organisations you can partner with including Reckon Loans. Many businesses require short term loans in times of need – you can be that vendor.

Legal Documents

Another fantastic stream of revenue is through legal documentation. Businesses need to setup entities, register trademarks, setup trusts and provide employee contracts. You can be the source of such common business documentation by partnering with Reckon Docs.