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New Year’s Resolutions for Tax and Accounting Professionals

21 Dec 2018  |  
Tags: Outsourcing

It’s that time of the year, the holiday spirit is in full swing and most people are already thinking about the resolutions they’ll make for the New Year. Yes, we know that most accountants will be exclusively focused on completing self-assessment tax returns in January, but there is never a better time than the New Year to sit down and rethink the year ahead.

  1. Plan for a smoother tax season

Christmas and New Year are busy times for you and your production staff.  Weeks of data entry, peak season overtime costs, extended work hours, and a tsunami of paperwork can undermine the joys of the holiday season. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right preparation and teamwork, you can significantly reduce the stress. It may be helpful to plan a meeting with all staff members and brainstorm how to make the whole tax return process more efficient. As you head into January, come up with a team flexibility plan where everyone can discuss their expectations. Often it’s your tax teams that will have ideas for a better tax season.

Read our blog on ‘4 Tips To Keep Your Sanity This Busy Tax Season’.

  1. Offer more value to your clients

We think every accountant should have a goal to find more ways to provide value to their clients in the New Year. Being an accountant in 2019 involves more than crunching numbers – as a modern-day accountant you can offer IT support, personal finance services, cyber security services, succession planning, and business advisory to your clients.

Think about how you can add value to your clients by becoming a trusted business advisor – you could identify problems before they arise, find ways to save clients money on tax obligations, and help them plan their finances. These things will, in the long run, make you a lot more valuable than simply providing compliance services. 

  1. Embrace compliance technology in your practice

With the advent of the technology, compliance is now becoming a powerful business tool. This is because compliance data touches so many part of the business that collecting, harmonising and analysing it provides useful insights about your clients’ tax, finance, and business growth.

The result is the emergence of a new type of accounting professional with operational and advisory roles, including senior management positions. According to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Tassilo Festetics, “The back office has become cool.”

With technology and compliance becoming more and more connected, maybe in 2019 you can develop transitional skills within your teams and integrate compliance technology in your practice.

Read this brilliant article about how tech, data and compliance are converging to transform business:

  1. Embrace cloud accounting

Over the last 5 years we’ve seen technology completely transform traditional industries like hotels and taxis. A similar thing has happened in the accounting industry with the advent of cloud accounting. It has completely revolutionised the way accountants run their practices and service their clients. A raft of opportunities, such as expanding into new services, building deeper client relationships, adding value by focusing on advisory services, and the ability to work from anywhere, have opened up.

As compliance work becomes more commoditised, its advisory services that will really help you stand out and add value to your clients. Cloud accounting is a great opportunity to do this, especially with Making Tax Digital coming into effect in April 2019.

By offering advisory and consulting services you add more value to the work you’re already doing and increase your income streams. Offering business consulting services can also distinguish your practice from the competition and help you get a step up.

  1. Invest in training for your staff

Like any industry, if you want to stay relevant and develop transitional skills in your practice, you need to keep up to date with the latest discussions, software, products, practices and people. And with basic data entry and processing increasingly being done by machines, investing time and money into you and your team’s professional development to adapt to the changing skillset is critical.

Make getting CPD points a priority in 2019 so that you are not struggling at the end of the year.

  1. Attract and retain top talent

Millennials now comprise 35% of the UK workforce. These are people who have grown up with technology and enjoy providing technology-based solutions for your business clients. They have the ability to work remotely, find answers quickly and efficiently, and thrive in a work environment where they are responsible for their work.  To attract and retain top millennials follow these practices recommended by Economia:

  • Nurture their initiative
  • Give them opportunities to grow and skills to leave
  • Don’t limit feedback to an annual appraisal
  • Really get to know them
  • Constantly re-recruit your top performers
  • Build trusting relationships
  • Teach them how to add value
  • Introduce dynamic/agile working – a high-trust, high-performance culture

Read our article on ‘What led to the talent shortage in the accounting industry”.

  1. Utilise global resourcing

Physical boundaries in delivering accounting services are now diminishing. Remote working is the new cool, as more and more accountants offer this as an option to their teams. And with resources available across the globe, accountants now have access to a larger pool of talent when it comes to hiring staff. In order to become more competitive and profitable, resolve to look into ways you can integrate outsourcing staff into your service delivery models this year.

One way to approach this is by identifying areas where you could save time and money. To avoid the extra pressure on your staff that Making Tax Digital will bring, delegate the bookkeeping functions to outside suppliers. It will also save you time you spend on recruiting and training staff for specific back-office functions.

Global resourcing is now being used by UK accounting practices for a plethora of solutions, from improving work-life balance of in-house staff to making compliance processes more profitable and efficient.

  1. Commit to a work-life balance

Before another year rolls around and your to-do list grows even longer, take a few moments out to review you and your front-end team’s work-life balance.

To commit to maintaining a work-life balance, make sure you or your team don’t work past 6 o’clock, you get a chance to have dinner with your family, and you don’t check work email while you are catching up with friends and family. It’s important to set limits even during busy times like Christmas or January.

  1. Be a leader your wish you had 

The best leaders know that their employees don’t work for them; they work for their employees. It’s perfectly understandable that there are times like the busy tax season when you may need to ask your team to stay late or even come in on weekends to get work completed on time. Of course, you don’t want to be a horrible boss and your team don’t see you that way either (unless you ask them to come in every weekend).

So take care of the small things. Give them a Friday off or take them out for drinks. Give them an extra bonus so they feel appreciated. It’s also important to note that it costs much less to retain a team member than to lose them and have to hire a new one. In fact, according to The Under Cover Recruiter, “for a £27,600 paid new staff member, you’ll actually need to budget for something closer to £50,000 in their first year of employment.”  

  1. Take time out for yourself

It may seem counter intuitive to take time away from your work when you are trying to grow your practice, but it could really be the best thing to do.  Whether it’s taking regular lunch breaks or spending more time with family, time off from work can give you a well-deserved opportunity to sit back and appreciate the progress.

If you look after yourself in the long turn, you can better look after your customers and staff. As a final resolution, make a plan to get away for a couple weeks in the month of February or August so you have fewer things to worry about when you’re away.

Closing thoughts

We hope some of these resolutions will be helpful to you and your practice. Overall, resolve to make 2019 your best year yet! If you are already a QXAS partner then we’re excited to be working alongside you as your accountancy practice grows in 2019.

Did you like that resolution about integrating global resources in your practice? Look into taking a free 10-hour trial of our accounting and bookkeeping service. Click here to get started.