Demography can be a dry discipline but there is no doubt that big demographic trends can make or break an accounting and bookkeeping firm. It’s been all about Boomers; now it’s time to move on. It’s all about Millennials. In Australia and in the USA, Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation. For those of us who haven’t figured out who we’re talking about, Millennials are defined as those born roughly between 1983 and 2000.
Accounting and bookkeeping professionals (a big sliced of whom are Baby Boomers) have yet to adapt to this tectonic, demographic shift. In short, accounting and bookkeeping professionals had better adjust to the needs of this generation as they are forming businesses at a faster rate than any previous generation.
Meeting the business owner’s needs
The way Millennials choose to operate in the business world is set to become the new normal. Despite being brought up in a digitised world, it can be safely assumed that a majority of entrepreneurs of any generation loathe doing their own bookkeeping. They see it as a task that eats up their time. Accounting software vendors will continue to promote DIY solutions but a majority of entrepreneurs – millennials included – will seek out service providers who do their books in order that the entrepreneur doesn’t have to.
They also want elegant solutions (not old school spreadsheets) to enable them to track the financial health of their business.
Moving beyond compliance
Accountants and bookkeepers will be advising a growing share of Millennials. One bookkeeper hired by a Millennial client to do a ‘catch up” of 12 months of trading for his subscription-based digital publishing business was confronted with the Millennial’s first question “So, can you tell me about your technology stack?” In lay terms the client was looking to the bookkeeper to integrate the business systems with her accounting software and seeking to discover what technology she was using to communicate and deliver the accounting records.
Being agnostic around accounting software brands and the various add-ons is a safe place to be when it comes to a technology “stack”. The Millennial may have simply need talking their own ‘lingo’ but it is becoming clear that accounting and bookkeeping professionals had better be well-versed in technology integration and cloud-based practice management.
As an experienced accountant or bookkeeper will know, early stage ventures are at a higher risk of failure due to financial mismanagement, especially in matters as simple as losing sight of cash flow. Most small business could do with, not just the basic bookkeeping, but some basic advisory services such as:
• Helping the business owner identify their key performance indicators
• Working with the owner to set up a dashboard to track the above
• Highlight the cash flow situation against patterns of spending
Irrespective of the generation, most small business owners will at some stage in their business suffer from cash flow blindness as it affects so many enterprises. Get familiar terms such as “technology stack”.