online tools for accountants

How Short-Staffed Accounting Firms Can Use Technology to Save Time

Accounting Practice Management

The accounting industry's staffing shortage is being felt by firms large and small. According to the Journal of Accountancy, the 2021 AICPA Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) CPA Firm Top Issues Survey found that accounting firm staffing problems "largely rounded out the list of top concerns for firms employing six or more professionals.” The lack of good candidates means many firms are struggling to keep up with daily workflow because they can’t find anyone to hire. Others are being forced to turn away new business because they don’t have the resources to take on any more clients.

What’s causing the shortage of good accounting candidates?

Several factors are contributing to the lack of qualified accounting professionals. One component was the technology pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions of the pandemic forced accounting firms into using technologies they weren’t comfortable with and this was just the push many Boomers needed to head for retirement. That would be fine if there was a fresh supply of rookie accountants ready to take their place but that was another problem.

The accounting industry has failed to attract the younger generation so there are less new accountants around to fill these roles. The number of people choosing accounting as a career path has dwindled over the past decade and the AICPA has noted a steady decline in the number of students taking the CPA exam. Apparently, the image of becoming a "bean counter" doesn’t appeal to millennials as much as becoming a software engineer, data analyst, or data scientist, their top three career choices according to a CNBC article about the jobs millennials want most.

You CAN Conquer Tax Season with Technology

The good news is, technology is here to save the day. The best way to save time for you and your staff is to leverage online tools and automate as many of these processes as possible. Here are some ideas on how to use technology to optimize your time.

Make Sharing Files Online Easy

If your clients are shying away from working with you remotely, it might be your file sharing tool. When a file sharing tool is hard to use or if the registration process is lengthy, clients may find it easier to stop by your office to drop off paperwork rather than try to figure out how to do it online. Most people would prefer to jump online to send you their documents so make your accounting file sharing tool user-friendly and the majority of your clients will get on board. Here are a couple of ways to encourage people to start using your online file sharing tool:

  • Offer a quick and easy registration process. Many file sharing tools allow you to upload a list of contacts to start the registration process for your clients. Then, all they have to do is set a password and they're on their way.
  • Make sure it's secure. Banks use 256 bit encryption and so should you. When your clients are convinced that your portal is safe for their financial documents, they’ll be much more likely to use it.

Get Paid Faster with an Online Payment Tool

Paying a bill the old fashioned way means finding the checkbook, writing a check, digging out a stamp...ugh just talking about it is exhausting. There’s a much better way: an online payment portal for accountants. Giving your clients the option to pay online is not only convenient for them but it will do wonders for your receivables because you’ll get paid faster. This will dramatically reduce the follow up on accounts receivables, saving time and lowering stress for your staff. Best of all, the money usually hits your account within a couple of days so it frees up more working capital that you can use to maintain your practice.

Automate Your Email Newsletter

Are you taking advantage of automation when it comes to your email newsletter? Many accounting firm email newsletter platforms offer the option to set it up to go out automatically. This way, while you’re busy working on tax returns or taking phone calls, your email newsletter is going out once a month, keeping your firm top of mind with clients and prospects.

You can also use an email newsletter system to send out tax due date reminders. These can be scheduled ahead of time to go out at critical times during the year to get more tax documents coming in without chasing your clients.

If your accounting website is not equipped with the tools you need, now is the time to make sure your website is ready for tax season.

Get a hand implementing these tips on your website or to find out how to build a new accounting firm website, contact Build Your Firm now at 888-999-9800, ext. 1.

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How Short-Staffed Accounting Firms Can Use Technology to Save Time
Hugh Duffy