Accountant type – bookkeeper accountant or business advisor accountant?

In response to my recent post “Evolution of Software as a Service (SaaS)”, Jason Holden made a comment that caught my attention:

…. The interesting thing about that is, most other accountants who say ‘oh no my client is used to Sage etc.’, well how do you explain that we are moving clients off a static version of Sage on their PC and onto winweb with all the benefits of our real-time support without any complaints, after all they are guided by their accountants advice not the other way round– so lets be honest the barrier is not the clients, it is the accountants who feel safe with Sage etc., clients don’t care! ……

I am asking myself is that really a fair statement? And should clients care?

From a micro and small business point of view, I have always understood accountants to be of three types the bookkeeper accountant, the bookkeeper accountant with a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering and the business advisor accountant using Software as a Service offering, who also offers bookkeeping.

The bookkeeper accountant is primarily interested to provide bookkeeping services and not much else to the client. And I would think there are enough companies that want exactly that service. To them it does not matter if they get last month numbers a few weeks later or even a few months. I think to use Sage or other boxed products is no problem at all.

If on the other hand you have a business start-up, or a growing business, and you want to see your numbers in real time, then the bookkeeping accountant can only offer this service with an on-demand, online Software as a Service product. Here both partners can work together in real time and a lot of IT headaches are taken from them at the same time (data backup, etc), the benefits are manyfold. David Terrar on his blog “Business Two Zero ” added the globalisation point to this discussion in his post about “Bricks, clicks and globalisation“. In this arena you can find a number of offerings like, Twinfield, Moore, Sage and our product AccountingOffice.

However, the business advisor accountant is a totally different “animal”, he/she wants to offer more services to the client in terms of advice for starting a business (lets face it who reads all these fancy start-up packs, that you can get everywhere) or running it. These accountants want to build a close client relationship, in oder to help the client to succeed, make the right financial and management decisions early on. And you only can do that when you are very closely connected or “integrated” with your clients business. This kind of service can not be delivered by software, online or not, alone. Live intervention of real people is required, the business advisor accountant, your virtual financial controller. Here you need a business infrastructure mentality, our OnlineOffice allows the advisor to see future development early on, sales forecasts, cash-flow forecast and the advisor is now also involved in the planning stages of the client business. The ROI for the client is enormous.

So was Jason’s statement fair, yes and no. It depends what kind of service you are looking for. You are the client and you should care.

13/06Update: Dennis has some interesting additions to my above post in “21st century accounting practitioners“.

Tags: Accountants, Accounting, Business Development, Business Infrastructure, Business Start Up, CPA, More Accounting, On-demand, Outsourcing, SaaS, Sage Accounting, sme-blog, Software as a Service, Twinfields, Web Technology, WinWeb

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