Driven by strong economic growth, rising equity markets, and an increase in auditing, regulatory and compliance burden, the U.S. accounting industry is booming. According to research by IBISWorld, over 95,000 accounting organizations employ nearly 560,000 people, and generate over $114 billion in annual revenues.
At the same time, the accounting industry is under relentless pressure — from within and without — to adapt to an array of factors. As noted by Forbes: “Fee pressures, rising staff labor costs, and lack of quality staff will force [accounting] firms to carefully examine their mix of services, industry concentrations, and their positioning in their marketplace relative to their technical/consulting resources and competition. Industry, niche, and service segment profit centers will come under more pressure for better results as the competition stiffens.”
To exploit this disruption and stand out in a crowded, competitive marketplace, a growing number of accounting firms —especially smaller boutique firms — are using technology to provide exceptional professional services, and position themselves as a strategic partner and trusted advisor. As noted by cloud business management solutions company Sage: “To bring the accounting profession to the future, accountants need to embrace the technology and training that will ultimately allow them to expand into a more consultative role. U.S. accounting firms no longer have the luxury of time. They need to adopt new technology and business models today, or risk being left behind.”
Below are the key ways that a state-of-the-art hosted cloud phone system from Carolina Digital Phone helps accounting firms surge ahead vs. fall behind:
- Improve Client Retention: A survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that client retention is one of the top challenges faced by CPA firms. Our hosted cloud phone system helps accountants connect with clients anytime, anywhere through our mobile app for iOS and Android, as well as take advantage of advanced calling features such as voicemail-to-email, live call transfer, and auto-attendant. Ultimately, this helps attract, retain and impress high quality clients — and keep them from heading to the competition
- Improve Billing Accuracy: As noted by AccountingToday.com: “Billing is one of those tasks that can get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day work. And yet, billing is one of the most important things a firm can do to keep themselves cash flow positive.” In addition, PerformanceMagazine.org highlights that: “an increase in billing accuracy commonly attracts an improvement in several other indicators such as net revenue from sales, cash to cash cycle time and renewal contracts.” Our hosted cloud phone system features built-in and automatic call logging, which tracks every second of time spent on the phone with each client (or on behalf of client). This means no unwelcome billing surprises for clients, and consistently accurate, appropriate billing.
- Protect Margins and Increase Profitability: As highlighted by fintech company Quickfee: “When it comes to profit margins, accounting firms may be struggling because the cost of business continues to go up. Technology, staff expenses and a competitive marketplace can all have an impact on eating away profits.” Our cloud phone system features a wealth of analytics data that helps accounting firms protect margins and increase profitability. For example, firms can see if it’s ultimately more profitable to have a larger volume of shorter calls with clients vs. a smaller volume of longer calls with clients, whether it is more effective to speak with clients earlier in the week vs. later in the week, and so on.
- Expand the Marketplace: With our hosted cloud phone system, accounting firms can add local phone numbers regardless of their actual physical location — which is vital for smaller firms that need to compete with the “Big 4” (Deloitte, PwC, E&Y, and KPMG). For example, an accounting firm in Greensboro, NC (area code 336) can easily and affordably get numbers that are local to clients in Charlotte (area code 704) and Raleigh (area code 919). In addition, toll-free numbers and easy-to-remember vanity numbers are also available.
- Business Continuity: During a local power outage, accounting firms cannot afford to have clients hear a “sorry, your call cannot be completed” message. The good news is that our cloud phone system is built to continue operating even in the event of a local power outage. This can be a relatively short brownout, or longer blackouts caused by severe weather, natural disasters, or man-made emergencies.
- Easily, Quickly and Affordably Scale: Many accounting firms onboard temporary staff around tax time or fiscal year end. With a conventional phone system, giving temporary hires their own phone number is cost prohibitive, and it can take weeks to reconfigure the on-site Private Branch Exchange (PBX). However, with our cloud phone system, accounting firms can easily, quickly and affordably scale. Within seconds, new hires (temp or temp-to-perm) can get their own phone number/extension, which they can access through their personal smartphone or a designated IP phone.
- Substantially Reduce Year-Over-Year Telecommunication Costs: Our hosted cloud phone system operates at a substantially lower cost vs. a conventional landline phone system, with many accounting firms poised to save up to 50% or more each year. There are no major upfront capital expenditures, no domestic long distance costs, no maintenance costs, and all ongoing technical support, upgrades and innovations are handled by our expert U.S.-based team. Plus, unlike conventional phone companies that regularly increase fees, our affordable pricing is fixed and predictable — which makes budgeting and forecasting easy and accurate.
- Cloud Faxing: As pointed out by Business.com: “Partly out of fear of cybercrime and partly just because it’s the way things are done, many highly regulated industries only accept hard copies of legal documents. An e-signature might be enough for some people, but the legality of an e-signature is not universally recognized, and there are many people who don’t want to take the risk.” Our hosted cloud phone system integrates seamlessly with our affordable Cloud Faxing Solution (a.k.a. e-faxing), so that accounting firms can ensure documentation-related compliance while they reduce risks for both themselves and their clients.
- Robust Enterprise-Grade Security: Our hosted cloud phone system runs on private and highly secure data networks, which are protected by end-to-end encryption mechanisms (e.g. Transport Layer Security/TLS and Secure RTP for transmitting media). We also conduct 24/7 monitoring, and law firms can configure granular-level security controls based on their specific needs.
To learn more about how our hosted cloud phone system will help your accounting firm reap all of these advantages and benefits, contact us today at 336-544-4000 for your FREE consultation and demo. We can visit you at your location, or connect with you over the web.