Cloud computing technology is the No.1 priority for accounting firms and their clients for 2018 and beyond, based on data provided to Fairfax Media.
An astonishing 83 per cent of Australian chartered accounting firms are investing in cloud computing technology for their clients, with 81 per cent investing in the same technology for themselves.
“Cloud computing presents many benefits for us,” HLB Mann Judd head of technology Ben Lyons says.
“Version control is paramount when collaborating on client accounting records and cloud accounting ensures there is only ever one version of the ‘truth’.
“It also gives us a much higher-level of security. Furthermore, it provides greater resilience by removing the need to perform back-ups and store data on-site.
“Cloud computing gives us the ability to select the desired level of customisation and therefore maintenance effort needed. By not managing hardware or operating systems we can focus on value-add services.”
Acute Business Services in Perth specialises in advice for managing and developing private and public businesses. The firm believes in the benefits of investing in technology and specifically in cloud computing.
“Cloud accounting software allows us to view our clients’ business financial performance and position in real time, giving us the ability to carry out our duties more timely and effectively, which also benefits our clients,” director Spencer Broad says.
“Before cloud software the client either had to have a costly remote server to host their software or alternatively had a static file on their computer that they would need to provide us, which was extremely inefficient and less secure. Cloud file sharing software has also provided efficiency and cost savings by allowing us and our clients to share large amounts of data in a secure and easy to use process.”
HLB Mann Judd has also recently incorporated EFTsure into its services. This product provides real-time checking of payee BSB and account numbers against a database of already verified details, and delivers an instant response at the time of making a payment.
“This is critical in guarding against both error and fraud prevention,” Lyons says.
HLB Mann Judd (NSW) were sufficiently appreciative of the benefits of EFTsure it took an equity share in the product.
The Sydney firm has also equipped all staff with Lenovo laptops that give them more flexibility when visiting clients.
“This strategy is important as we shift to an increasingly mobile workforce and giving our staff the ability to work from home, or anywhere,” Lyons says.
“We are increasing the use of data analytics and graphical representation of information to enhance audit and investigative accounting.
“We are also constantly investing in information security to protect client data and monitor systems.”
Acute Business Services is implementing a cloud-based platform called myprosperity that provides real time personalised financial information for the client that can be shared with any third-party. The software tracks and reports on bank accounts, share and investment portfolios, property values, car values, superannuation balances and also stores important documents such as wills, trust deeds and insurance policies.
“Utilising myprosperity will set us apart from our competitors and assists us to value add to our clients,” Mr Broad says. “It enables us to meet our clients’ needs more efficiently and ensures we uncover and offer solutions to fix any gaps our clients may have in their financial world.
“We also utilise a client portal, which enables the sharing of documents between us and our clients. The secure portal allows the clients to view and digitally sign necessary documents. This saves both parties time and money as there is no longer a need to print and post documents to one another. It is also very secure and all actions are digitally traceable.
“Having clients’ data stored in one accessible location provides greater time efficiency, which allows accountants more time to better service their clients’ needs and in a more cost-effective way for both the client and the accountant.”