“What’s happened with coronavirus has not just changed businesses, it’s not just changed the accountancy profession—it’s changed the world,” Des O’Neil, chief delivery officer at ProfitPro, said.
On a panel this week at the Accounting & Finance Virtual Summit, several industry members discussed the need for a renewed focus on innovation as firms look to the future.
Carl Reader, owner of d&t chartered accountants, said that client-facing accountants need to lead with empathy and follow with solutions, using soft skills to ensure they’re communicating effectively with clients and delivering to their needs.
“Once you’ve got the wrong person in, unfortunately, it can be like a cancer to the organisation,” he continued, adding that firms should hire on skills and fire on attitude. However, the panel advised that these points also apply to both new and existing clients.
The panel added that by trimming these clients and identifying ideal clients, firms can offer extra value to the companies that matter, increasing overall efficiency and client focus.
Technology can help boost that efficiency, and while cloud platforms have been essential to remote working, panelists warned that the cloud should not be used as a catch-all solution. Rather, firms need to focus on agility and find tech that works for their specific team and services.
“Being a ‘firm of the future’ is identifying how technology can support your business, but more importantly, how you can support your clients,” Reader said.
For some firms, this may mean carving out a niche in the market. Service offerings, location and even technical ability can all help create these niches, which can help bolster post-coronavirus success.
However, Lucy Cohen, co-founder of Mazuma, warned that there is a difference between creating and capturing value, and that firms need to monitor both aspects for success. However, she also noted that the metrics of success may need to shift—such as moving from profit-loss to retention—given the current climate.
Enhancing customer service offerings is also key for future-focused firms, but in all of this, firms should think of where they want to sit in the post-pandemic market.