Competitive battles are no longer going to be fought with the ordinary tools and apps we've depended on for decades.
Things are changing, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are huge parts of your accounting firm’s ability to stay in the mix and provide a level of service, response time, and speed that clients are demanding.
And just as importantly, AI and ML will help free up your team from routine tasks to do more analytical work and provide better recommendations.
Hiring May be Limited, But Your Client Capabilities Have to Remain Top-Notch
When you look at what's happening with the onset of COVID-19, an urgent concern becomes how to free up time to advise your clients on issues that are most critical to the stability and growth of their business. Without a strong team to support your efforts, you’ll find yourself quickly overwhelmed.
Recruiting and retaining a motivated team that can make sound decisions is most likely at the top of your mind. What you’ve probably given less thought to is what to do when resources for talent run dry. In addition to the human members of your team, you may want to consider AI as the “little hardworking genius” that can supplement your existing team.
It's going to be especially challenging for accounting firms to navigate the business landscape in the coming months as they try to better assess not only their clients’ challenges, but their own, as well.
Your Staff Wants to be Challenged; They Don’t Want to be Robots
Accounting firms love to win “best employer” awards and acknowledgments from local business journals. This type of branding win can be distributed via press releases, social media, and company websites. It looks great and serves as a magnet to attract the best and the brightest. It also helps allay some of the concerns in your internal team, who may be thinking, “Hey, maybe the grass is greener elsewhere.” These are powerful tools when you’re going out to campus recruiting events, which are sure to evolve into different formats this year.
But one thing that is still very much a constant is that top graduates can pick and choose the accounting firms they work for. AI is a differentiator that gives your firm the ability to provide a much better work environment with the higher job satisfaction and career-development paths the next generation is seeking. How does AI do all that? It starts by letting AI take monotonous tasks away from your employees.
Remote accounting teams are searching for ways to work as efficiently as possible—especially when there are so many other things going on that are competing for their attention. By working more efficiently and using automation, AI, and ML to do so, you can make sure your team is working on the areas that can add the most value to clients—as opposed to your staff being (for lack of a better word) invoice-processing robots. You certainly don't want your employees to feel like that—or even worse, to have that be their job!
Undergraduates Probably Know More About AI Than You Do
Accounting graduates who are looking for employers are having significant conversations about technology, AI, analytics, and Big Data inside the classroom—but even more importantly, in their daily lives outside the classroom. Alexa, Facebook, Spotify, and Netflix are AI companies they’ve grown up with. Don’t be shocked if they know more about AI than you do. So, when these graduates approach your firm’s partners and recruiters and ask what your technology roadmap and technology stack look like, do you have good answers for them?
Vic.ai’s 2019 State of Client Accounting Services Report analyzed the average tenure of accountants. On client accounting services teams (CAS), the majority of employees were mid-career, with 34% having 10-14 years’ experience. But a core 16% were fresh out of school.
So, if you're looking at planning the future of your business, and succession planning is part of your to-do list, then make sure you're thinking about the role of technology in your accountant recruitment and retention efforts, and how building a stronger team can set you apart from competitors.
What are some of your best practices for building better accounting teams? Share your feedback in the comments section.
If you want to create an environment that attracts up-and-coming talent, then check out the on-demand webinar, “The Future of Outsourced Accounting and Accounting Technology.”