How has software changed the accounting profession?

Long gone are the days of manually inputting data, spreadsheets and paperback ledgers. Today, having functional, robust accounting software is non-negotiable, especially with government legislation like Making Tax Digital and remote working practices accelerating digital transformation.

Accounting software has become so essential to modern practice that the market itself was valued at £8.52 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach £13.89 billion by 2026 with a compound annual growth rate of 8.5%.

With many accounting software providers to choose from and innovations continually entering the market, finding the best accounting software for small businesses can be challenging.

Keep reading to discover:

  • How accounting software has changed the industry
  • Benefits of cloud-based accounting software for accounts and their clients
  • How to choose the best accounting software for clients with small businesses

Industry-wide change: a shift from traditional accounting to accounting software

Traditionally, accountants would spend hours crunching numbers and making manual calculations in a paper ledger. As technology advanced, this process gradually moved online, first with Excel spreadsheets and then with cloud accounting software — effectively eliminating the need for calculators, ledgers and pencils.

Moving online and into the cloud unlocked strategic advantages for clients and significantly changed standard operating practices. With cloud-based accounting software, small business owners could enter and edit financial information, creating a closer collaboration between accountants and clients.

Cloud-based accounting also reduced the margin for error as calculations happened automatically by sophisticated algorithms rather than manually inputting figures into a calculator.

Accountants have also needed to adapt their core skill set as accurate statistical accounting and forecasting analysis became increasingly possible to stay up-to-date with these changes. 

These technological changes have allowed the accounting profession to evolve from mere number crunchers sitting behind a desk working on tax returns to strategic advisors with in-depth financial analysis and insights.

Benefits of accounting software

Accounting software offers many strategic benefits for accountants as well as their clients. Accounting software allows accountants to take a more proactive role by helping small business owners understand the data at hand, making smarter financial decisions, identifying new growth opportunities, and building better relationships with clients.

Advantages of cloud-based accounting software for accountants

Instant access

Cloud-based accounting software allows accountants to access clients’ financial information via a secure log-in from any location. With the upswing in remote, flexible working and ongoing economic crisis, having real-time financial data at your fingertips is essential for supporting clients.

Streamlined operations

Cloud-based accounting software also allows accountants to streamline and automate basic admin tasks like importing banking data, reconciling accounts and more. So much so that research suggests that almost 75% of accounting tasks could be automated with accounting software. With manual data-heavy tasks taken care of, accountants can spend more time providing strategic advice and nurturing client relationships.

Increased customers

Cloud-based accounting software is perfect for collaborating with clients across the globe. Accounting software makes it easy to create reports, view company finances, process tax and international payments and keep everyone on the same page regardless of location. Given the ease of collaboration, it’s not surprising that businesses that use cloud accounting systems have 5x more customers than those that don’t.

Advantages of accounting software for small businesses

Intuitive

Small business owners, especially those without in-depth financial knowledge, need a quick and easy-to-use system to balance the books, send invoices, and submit end-of-year reports. Accounting software makes it easy for them to get started and set up quickly.

Access on-the-go

Between rushing to appointments and managing day-to-day operations, small business owners are always on the go. Accounting software allows them to view, update and manage accounts from their mobile when and where suits them.

Stay compliant

Staying informed on government regulations, approaching deadlines, and new tax legislation can be challenging for small business owners. The best accounting software for small businesses helps them stay up-to-date and get the information they need.

Collaborate with their accountant

As most accountants know, getting information from small businesses owners amidst all the competing demands of running a business can be challenging. The right accounting software makes it easy to collaborate and get the information you need to finish balancing the books.

How to find the best accounting software for small businesses

Finding the best accounting software for small business clients plays a key part in helping their companies grow and thrive, especially post-pandemic. Review your firms’ processes to determine what aspects you need to streamline and talk to your small business clients to identify how accounting software would make their lives easier. 

Remember, the more straightforward the software is to implement and use, the quicker and easier it’ll be to get it up and running both within your firm as well as client-side. Complicated software will require a longer onboarding process. It may be off-putting to small business owners, who lack the time or financial knowledge to benefit in the long run. 

You may also want to think about cost, user reviews and included features to find the best accounting software for your company and small business clients. 

Optimise client relationships with Countingup’s free accounting software 

Start saving your practice time on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with Countingup’s free accounting software, built specifically to help you manage self-employed and sole trader clients. The software is MTD-compatible and full of features for accountants to review and manage client accounts efficiently, with direct access to their real-time organised data. Find out more here.

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