In 1915 Franz Kafka wrote his famous novella Metamorphosis; the story begins with a traveling salesman waking to find himself transformed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous insect-like creature. The rest of the story deals with the salesman’s attempts to adjust to his new condition. Some bookkeepers may feel some sympathy for Grigor Samsa the salesman, when they consider waking up to the reality of changes in the accounting and bookkeeping sector.
Redefining the bookkeeper role in a business setting and in the fundamental services provided by bookkeepers is well underway. It is being driven, not by the accounting software suppliers who would like us to believe they are the stimulus for the massive shifts taking place: they were not the drivers of Uber or Airbnb or Alibaba and Upwork. Rather, it is the SMB sector seeking increases in efficiencies and productivity gains that is driving the change.
Outsourcing of services (to Alibaba, Upwork and the like) is dramatically changing the landscape for professional service providers: accountants, bookkeepers and law firms (who are, reluctantly, adopting fixed price regimes). Business owners are seeking ways to improve efficiencies to stay above the competition. They need technology to provide real-time information and faster data collection.
A snap survey conducted this week with a cross–section (geographic) of bookkeeper members of the Bookkeepers Hub (www.bookkeepershub.com.au ) indicated an under-whelming 10 percent of respondents had earned fees or income for ‘advisory’ (or related) services. Results included:
• Less than 10% said ‘No’ in the questionnaire to ‘Are they earning fees/revenue/income from Advice or advisory-related work’
• More than a third indicated that they had no intention of offering such services
• About 50% responded ‘Yes’ when asked whether they had plans for giving ‘advice’ or ‘advisory services’ within 12 months.
For about 50% of bookkeepers the wake-up call apparently has not yet been heeded. What’s the call? It says: the business-minded bookkeeper must evolve through this change in function and role definition in order to go forward and be successful.
In many cases, a bookkeeper may already be providing management advice to their customers. After all, a business’s accounting should not be apart from the business, but rather be an integral real-time reliable component.
The trusted advisor role
Many bookkeepers have degrees; many have BAS Agent status and many others have professional qualifications and competencies to fall within the professional competencies of ‘trusted advisor’. What does this entail? The list is growing but must require a capability to produce reports for the business owner to better run their business. Business owners will benefit from affordable, regular advice and solutions in this fast-paced and extremely competitive business climate. Small business owners are challenged and many do not have the skills or time to track the performance indicators that can make or break their business.
The metamorphosis is at play. To keep ahead, many professionals in accounting, bookkeeping and law need to move at the same rate as the metamorphic changes that are impacting the profession(s). When it comes to accountants and bookkeepers, it’s about being the trusted advisor everyone is talking about. Gathering and analysing your clients’ data provides the professional a simple way to turn data into actionable advice – at a glance and in real time.