By Phil Sweeney and Taylor Sarsfield
We recently attended the Sage Partner Summit to learn from Sage experts, soak in peer knowledge, and network with over 1,000 of our CPA colleagues. So what did we learn from one of the biggest accounting partner events? Here are a few key themes and takeaways from our time on-site:
Marc Linden, EVP and General Manager, Medium Segment Native Cloud Solutions, Sage, explains how the company and its partner ecosystem can capitalize on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation. Photo credit: Taylor Sarsfield.
Digital Transformation is Here, Whether You’re Ready or Not
The NFL has been using tracking chips in their players’ shoulder pads and footballs for years to collect predictive player data and automate the recording of the number of times a quarterback throws the ball. Professional sports have figured out how to maximize data quickly and efficiently to better serve their teams and players.
Compare that to some of the pain points facing CPAs that came up at the conference, including the time-consuming process of data entry, lack of automation and an inability to review live data to make good recommendations. Investing in technologies like AI for bookkeeping used to be seen as a major risk for CPAs. However, CPAs are finally acknowledging that technology holds the key to their firms remaining competitive and surviving.
Auditing and Bookkeeping Remain a Core Client Service
The accounting profession has come a long way since Charles Dickens’ infamous bean counter, Ebenezer Scrooge. The accounting industry has become more consultative over the years due to complex transactions, focusing on tax and advisory services and leaving the world of audit out in the cold.
But what we heard in many conference sessions is that audit is still considered the gateway to developing client trust. Once you’ve helped a client with their books, you’ve set the foundation for building that relationship and expanding into other areas of their business like fractional CFO services and managed accounting. But bookkeeping is labor-intensive, so companies have to be willing to adopt and invest in technology in order to become efficient and ultimately own the client relationship end to end.
Technology Can Guarantee the Next Generation of CPAs
If you build it, they will come. You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating - Gen Z and millennials are digital natives who expect business technology to function as seamlessly as consumer technology. If companies want to attract top talent, they need to invest in platforms that incorporate machine learning like Netflix, Alexa, and Spotify.
And with a lack of young professionals considering the accounting landscape, the industry is not only going to need to make the CPA exam more accessible for today’s newcomers, but it will also need to make accounting exciting and dare we say it, sexy. The goal is to go beyond creating a new generation of CPAs and instead develop the next generation of accounting technologists.
A personal highlight for us, as we walked around the Sage Partner Summit event and had the chance to speak with our peers is that people are truly starting to embrace the mindset that technology isn’t future planning, it’s planning for today.
The speakers we saw were proud of how their companies are making significant changes to stay relevant in an industry that was once wary of tech disruption. We came away inspired and hopeful that terms like AI, machine learning, and automation will no longer be seen as buzz words but as tools that can help CPAs deepen their relationships with their clients and remove productivity barriers. So that they can continue to excel professionally. We look forward to seeing you next time!
Did you attend the Sage Partner Summit in Orlando? If so, what do you find most impactful for your business? Share your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And if you’re serious about transforming your accounting practice, we highly recommend that you download our free eBook on The Future of Accounting Technology (Preparing for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning)
About Phil Sweeney: Phil has been involved in sales and leadership roles across a variety of social good and technology startups for the past seven years. He has a passion for all things digital and earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College Dublin and a bachelor of business administration from Fordham University. You can connect with Phil on LinkedIn.
About Taylor Sarsfield: Taylor is a sales professional with extensive experience in finance and technology. Having also worked in accounting, she recognizes technology’s role in revolutionizing the industry. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a bachelor’s of business administration from Queens College, City University of New York. You can connect with Taylor on LinkedIn.