A majority of Australian SMEs will consider replacing their accountant if they fail to make the transition to cloud-based computing software, according to new research by CCH.
The research of over 1000 SMEs and over 200 accountants revealed that the shift to cloud software is approaching critical mass, with 52 percent of SMEs saying they would replace their accountant if they fail to move to a cloud-based system. The proportion reached 72 percent among younger SME owners (aged 18-35).
Only 23 percent of accountants servicing SMEs have moved to cloud-based software, the majority being younger accountants.
CEO of Wolters Kluwer Asia Pacific, Russell Evans, said the survey was a wake-up call for accountants putting off the transition to a cloud software platform.
“It suggests a business-as-usual approach is not really an option for accounting firms. Their SME clients are saying they want to move down the cloud path and many will do so without their existing accountants if need be,” said Evans.
“And the impulse toward the cloud among younger business owners is even stronger, suggesting accounting firms risk losing a whole new generation of SME clients if they fail to act,” he added.
Chief reasons given by accountants for not having adopted cloud-based systems were the lack of time to learn about and familiarity with cloud systems (42 percent) and the existence of a working system (37 percent).
The research does, however, suggest that accounting firms are planning to implement cloud-based systems, with 60 percent expecting to make the move within the next three years.
The reasons for future adoption of cloud-based software, as provided by accountants, include:
- Accessibility from multiple locations (62 percent)
- Easy maintenance (32 percent)
- No need for purchasing hardware or accounting software (32 percent)
- Easy scalability in the event client base grows or their needs change (30 percent)
- No need for updates, tax tables updates or version upgrades (28 percent)
- Reduced overall costs (27 percent)
- Lower up-front investment required by clients (25 percent)
- Access to improved reporting (21 percent)
- Better security of data (18 percent)
- Availability of advanced features (12 percent)
“The business case for making the shift is clear. By taking the initiative and moving to a cloud-based platform before their SME clients do, accountants can secure their central role in managing their client’s accounts, while freeing up time and resources to provide strategic advisory services, an activity highly valued by their clients,” said Evans.
While 70 percent of SMEs trust their own instincts over professional advice, a large number of owners rank accountants as their most trusted external adviser, making the transition to cloud based software essential.
“The end result will be a more efficient interface between accountants and their clients, with less time spent on administration services and more on strategic business planning,” said Evans.