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What makes a good accountant – Technology or Relationships?

What makes a good accountant – Technology or Relationships?

I have been reading a lot lately about major change within the accountancy profession. How cloud software, digital change, innovation and automation could make old accountants and old accounting firms redundant. We are told that if the profession and accountant’s who work within the business don’t change they will become extinct, like the dinosaurs.

Having had over 30 years as an accountant and business owner I wonder if I will survive these changes or is my time within the accounting profession coming to end? The answer is definitely NO to those questions and I can tell you that the team at Hamilton Taggart Business Advisors will be around for another 30 years or longer, even though I won’t always be here.

I have seen a lot of change in the accounting profession over the past 30 years, but some things have stayed the same. You still have to talk with your clients and provide them with business and tax advice by creating an ongoing trusting relationship.

Yes, the way financial statements are prepared has changed dramatically from manual bank reconciliations and typed financial statements, to data entry into computer programs like MYOB, to online cloud accounting with Xero. However all of these methods just prepare financial statements. The advisor’s role only begins after the financial statements are prepared and we analyse them, review the results and compare with industry averages / KPI’s so that we can advise our clients.

Do I miss doing manual bank rec’s or watching staff mindlessly do data processing of invoices? Of course I don’t. There was nothing more mind numbing than being out on your manual bank rec and having to find the mistake. Having online cloud software makes the preparation of the raw materials (data entry) for financial statements easier and more efficient and I love it!

But what hasn’t changed over the past 30 years I have been in the profession is what we do with the numbers. How we review the financial statements and interpret them for our clients. A good accountant is always working with their client to get the best outcomes for their business, net profit and income tax wise. A good accountant creates a trust relationship with their client, guiding them when things are good, supporting them when times aren’t so good and making sure they always have their tax affairs up to date. Creating this type of relationship between advisor and client delivers a win / win for both parties and makes them want to build a long term relationship.

Building relationships hasn’t changed at Hamilton Taggart’s since the firm was established by my father back in 1952. He started with no money and only 2 clients, but he was all about helping these 2 people get the best outcome for them and their business. Hamilton Taggart Business Advisors are still advising the son and grandchildren of 1 of these original clients as the relationship that Alan created back then still lives on today. How we prepare these original client’s financial statement and income tax returns has dramatically changed over the past 50 years, but what is done with these numbers and how we advise them hasn’t changed.

I am excited about the changes in the accounting profession as I know the way we prepare the numbers will continually change. Technology is a valuable tool, but it is just a tool – you need a professional to use it and interrupt the result and advise the client by building a trusting relationship with them. Yes the accounting profession is in for change and at Hamilton Taggart Business Advisors we embrace the technological change, but continue to do what we do best, create relationships with our clients.

I can now answer my initial question – an accountant that creates a relationship with his customer is the best accountant. Modern technology is just the tool that creates the numbers.

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