As a new generation firm, Collins SBA is ahead of the pack when it comes to achieving great results. Through a clear vision of building remarkable futures, this firm has embraced technology to deliver better client solutions by helping businesses to increase profit, improve systems and grow in size and revenue.
With the proliferation of cloud-based accounting systems, there are a number of problems posed to accounting firms to obtain the much publicised ‘benefits’ of these systems and using them to add value to clients.
Practitioners need to be able to interpret accounting information collectively, for a range of purposes, including:
a) To provide a ‘holistic’ view of client groups over all their financial affairs, rather than a single entity view (which is the traditional way reports look at client data);
b) To utilise ‘big data’ to identify standards and benchmarks for industries and clients; and
c) To be able to review an entire client base and identify financial issues of concern, which enable an accountant to proactively make decisions with the client and add value to their services.
Technology and standardisation have contributed to this firm’s results through:
Automating compliance work
The team at Collins SBA uses advanced Excel tools to extract data from any client accounting systems for reporting once the client data file is complete.
To analyse client data collectively, one needs a common standard of interpretation. Ideally this is a standard chart of accounts, but with a multitude of accounting systems and client files this poses some challenges. Internal tools that automatically link a client file to a common chart of accounts streamlines this process.
Maximising efficiency through less rework and reduced review
As in any firm, reviewing and reworking has to be done. However, Collins SBA and its employees make a point of using comprehensive and up-to-date workpapers for this stage of compliance work.
All their reviewing and reworking is done before the reporting stage, and all of it is done in the client data file.
Minimising risk and consolidated data
Internally, the team streamlines processes by working on the client data file live. This means that they only change data once, resulting in a single source of truth. They then import this file straight into accounting reporting systems, meaning no double handling of files and information is required.
The challenge to streamline systems to be able to work in the client data file and utilise it for a range of core purposes such as documentation (workpapers), statutory and management reporting, will continue to deliver ongoing efficiency and client servicing benefits.
Most current systems and work practices require a separate system to be maintained and to convert data from the client’s accounting file, and whether or not it is ‘in the cloud’, it still requires manual journals into each system. Automation is often limited for specific combinations of accounting files to accounting systems, which tends to add more inefficient time to the process.
The Collins SBA solution has overcome many of these workflow challenges.
With the data in a standard form, effective reporting becomes as simple as a few clicks and the ability to collectively understand the business performance of clients becomes much easier.
The reality of implementing these approaches to their work was that there was minimal difference in the first year in the preparation of clients’ accounts.
However, by the second and subsequent years, there had been a 30-50% reduction in account preparation time.
The benefit of this saving is the additional time now available to offer and deliver advisory services to clients, hence improving cash flow and strengthening key client relationships.
Collins SBA believes that the future of accounting depends on the relationships between accountants and their clients and the effective use of technology. This is why Collins focuses on building the relationship and information technology skills of its accountants which reap dividends for both the practice and clients.