Any accountant can produce a set of accounts but not all have the ability to contribute added value to your business. Sean O’Flaherty, Director at Rosscot, explains how accountants should go beyond what is conventionally expected and provide innovative solutions in an industry traditionally governed by textbook answers.

Accountants are no longer considered simply to be money counters or bookkeepers; they are an integral independent part of a company’s senior team, providing in-depth financial analysis to benefit a company’s profits. Often people feel that ‘experienced’ is synonymous with ‘good’ when it comes to accounting. However, experience is not necessarily positive if it entails many years of applying the same tired principles with every client. What’s valuable is an accountant who can adapt their approach to each client and the changing financial landscape.

The ability to innovate from convention is essential for the effective development of your company. Good, local accountants work for successful businesses. If you are hiring an accountant to positively enhance your company then make sure you do your homework – check that their business is successful and their clients’ businesses are also prospering.

Innovation is also necessary in regards to refining and implementing the latest technology and software. When looking at employing a local company, instead of the global powerhouses, some may fear that ‘local’ also means ‘out-dated’. However, this is not true. A good local accountancy firm will invest in the latest and best software, such as Xero, QuickBooks and Sage. Local independent firms are able to pick and choose the most useful tools for their needs and they understand that remaining knowledgeable is a constant learning process. Keeping updated on the latest developments and improvements to software is what you want from a good local accountant. With this knowledge your accountant also needs the gumption to apply it.

This shift to technology-supported services has many advantages for clients. In particular, it has enabled 24/7 access to financial data ensuring the information required is always available. You now get real-time, accurate financial reporting when you need it. Historical financial data can help with financial forecasting, but it doesn’t help you be more proactive in your company’s growth. Thanks to virtual accounting software the data you need is always at your fingertips. This all works towards streamlining your business, saving you time and money and allowing you to get on with what you are good at.

Last year saw a huge rise in the adoption of Cloud Accounting and the Virtual Finance Director and this is a positive shift for the industry. The Cloud is a platform to make data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere, from any device. Online accounting means small business owners stay connected to their data and their accountants. The software can integrate with a whole ecosystem of add-ons and it’s scalable, cost effective and easy to use.

A Virtual Finance Director provided by your accountant, gives you years of sharp end financial and management experience, at the fraction of the cost of employing a full time person. The service is revolutionising the small to medium business sector offering them access to highly qualified accountants that they couldn’t afford to have in-house.

All this development means Accountants have had to up their game! As more and more accounting services have become automated, businesses are looking to us to offer a more strategic service across the board and technology has enabled us to be of huge strategic value at a cost-effective price.

Historically accountants simply offered accounts preparation and tax compliance services, however, the world has moved on. Value added services are critical to all businesses; whether they are start-ups or existing businesses. At Rosscot we have ensured that we can provide a full suite of services to include accounting software setup and training, on-going bookkeeping services, payroll, management accounts (with associated meetings with the owners), not to mention general advice and company secretarial services via Rosscot Secretaries Ltd.

It’s not a matter of simply maintaining the business; accountants must now also add value. They should take the initiative and offer advice without being asked and ask the necessary questions to understand your needs. This then allows them to create an appropriate business plan for your company. Therefore, with a trusting relationship, your business will thrive.