A new Sage survey validates both the SaaS model along with new business models for communication and the development of trusted relationships. Guess what? I like this research. Selective key points (my emphasis added):
- 55 per cent of businesses felt that the working relationship with their accountant could be improved. While the differences over money stand out (fees an issue), there were also differences of opinion over the use of technology, communications and the most important criteria for a business when choosing an accountant.
- The biggest likely change to the use of technology was revealed by the fact that 36 per cent of businesses and 37 per cent of accountants would use a hosted service if it meant that data could be shared more effectively between the two.
- Businesses feel that the biggest improvements to the relationship can be made through more frequent communication. 40 per cent of businesses and start-ups want more contact whether it be via telephone, email or face-to-face. Accountants have similar issues when it comes to communication. Third on the list of accountants’ frustrations with clients is being hard to contact (33 per cent).
- The survey also reveals a potentially dangerous disconnect between accountants and businesses when it comes to the criteria a business uses to select an accountant. While accountants believe that clients value quality of service above all else, this does not even make it into the top three criteria for prospective clients. Businesses place most importance on an accountants’ ability to understand their business.
I've no idea how much Sage shelled for this research but my readers could have told them all of this and more for free. Nevertheless, I've got to give credit where it's due and we now have some numbers against which to validate some of the things I've been saying over the last few months.
It will be interesting then to see how practices respond to the challenges. One thing is clear: the values of trust, relationship and communications will figure ever more highly on the list of how practitioners are measured. It's not difficult but requires care.
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