Finance

Top 4 Challenges Facing Growing Accounting Businesses

Stephen MacLennan
June 5, 2024

Managing and running an accounting firm is no easy feat. Despite providing services that you’re likely quite passionate about, it can feel overwhelming at times with the amount of complexity in how you have to deliver those services and manage all areas of the business. These challenges present themselves in multiple ways, but let’s look at the 5 largest challenges that we’ve seen that Accounting Firms face:

Major Operational Challenges in Accounting Firms

1. Manual Customer Onboarding

Onboarding customers to help you serve them best

Often overlooked is the Customer Onboarding process. Due to the varying types of customers Accounting Firms typically have (and we’ll explore this more later in this article), onboarding a new client is often the first major pitfall in the business. This normally presents itself as follows:

  1. You manually collect information from clients through a combination of an engagement contract, a business onboarding form, and then follow on emails gathering the remaining information (such as registration documentation, proof of Tax registration etc)
  2. This information is then manually stored on a drive (usually Sharepoint, but possibly more robust customer management file stores like Filecamp)
  3. Key business information is manually captured on Xero (or any other financial system that you’re using)
  4. This information is also updated on your CRM system

This process is time-consuming and overly manual. Because of this, it’s also susceptible to steps and information being missed or overlooked, and can result in embarrassing interactions with clients.

Solution:

By developing a more integrated onboarding process that connects their CRM, their delivery workflows, their document storage and their accounting system, businesses can drastically reduce manual capture time and the risk of information being ‘misplaced’ between systems.

2. Complicated Client Structures

Client profiling for Accounting Businesses is a lot more complicated than for other businesses. Clients can take many forms including:

  1. Individuals
  2. Trusts
  3. Limited company (Private and public)
  4. Partnerships
  5. Sole Traders
  6. etc

Effectively managing these clients and the relationships between them can be the difference between success and failure. Misclassifying this information can lead to missed opportunities (for potential on-selling and cross-selling services that you don’t yet provide them), or failed delivery (missed deadlines or required support needed from your clients that can lead to embarrassing penalties for your clients).

Solution:

By ensuring that your CRM system is set up to track the full client lifecycle (not just the Sales Pipeline), and by setting up the system to accommodate this descriptive data about your clients means you’ll stay on top of your responsibilities more readily, and identify new opportunities more accurately.

3. Complex Regulatory Deadlines

Accounting businesses, particularly those offering tax support, have a diverse range of clients. They are responsible for helping these clients navigate a complicated set of regulatory requirements. These requirements and their deadlines differ per client type, location, and services provided. It's crucial not to miss these deadlines or neglect to inform clients about them, which would be embarrassing and would likely result in losing the client.

Solution:

Establish a “Golden Thread” in your business that connects your CRM and your project management functions. Using a tool like monday.com, which has an integrated CRM and work management tool, will ensure that customers are being managed consistently, while key information about those clients is centralised and connected to your origination processes. This can be further automated with Make, building more complex workflows, and also connecting with other systems such as Xero and Sharepoint.

4. Overly Manual Processes

With the amount of complexity, Accounting Businesses often fall back to trying to manage these processes with manual spreadsheets and disconnected tools. This reduces staff’s available capacity (with so much time being spent on data administration), and is also highly susceptible to finger errors (a draw back to spreadsheets in general). The errors are difficult to identify, and more challenging to unwind when you do find them as you don’t necessarily know when the error happened (so you can’t refer to an appropriate backup or version).

Solution:

Embrace automation!

Automation tools like Zapier or Make can be used to automate various tasks and processes. Work management tools like monday.com, also have a built in automation engine that allow you to easily automate the more tedious tasks and speed up your workflows.

Building workflows between systems and teams

Building integrated workflows

As your business grows, processes start to strain with changes in process owners, outdated workflows and tech, and systems that aren’t integrated. We can assist you with understanding your “Work Operating System” (How your teams are using technology to manage their workloads) and provide recommendations as to how it can be improved. If you’d like to discuss this further, click the link below to schedule a meeting with us to find out how we can help you.

Schedule a call to find out more

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