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We are now 21 years into the 21st Century: What does this mean for your firm?

If you are like most people, it feels like the 1990s is still pretty recent. But, it’s actually up to 31 years ago!

Technology has come a LONG way since 1999 ticked over to 2000, and, yet, some things have not changed in more than a few accounting firms. In order to understand the ramifications of being so far into the 21st century, let’s first look at what we thought the future would look like, and then compare to how we actually live today.

It turns out that futurists actually got a lot of things right! Look around you – a lot of things in your home and life today were featured in the vintage cartoon, “The Jetsons.” You now have video chats with people across the world without thinking about it, your Roomba might be the main way you vacuum your house, and your home gym might feature a Peloton or a Mirror. You order food or groceries for delivery using an app on your phone, and you have thousands of movies available on demand in your home. We don’t have flying cars yet, but some people have started using self-driving cars, even though we might differ in our opinions about whether we think those are safe.

There is one thing we all agree on though – banking is now done on a delightful app held in the palm of your hand. No more breaking your day up to “get to the bank” during “business hours.” Banking apps have set a new standard for convenience and provided a seamless integration into our lives. Now that you’ve experienced that convenience, would you ever consider going back to the old way of banking?

In looking at all the things that now make our lives easier, we don’t stop and think about how they help us get a lot more done without stepping out of our day to do it. But, if you compare those conveniences and easy experiences to the way you USED to have to get those things done, the benefits of using technology that seamlessly fits into your day becomes really obvious.

When you look at your firm and how you do business with your clients, you should apply the same principle. Your goal should be to become a seamless part of your client’s day, rather than giving them a difficult experience.

Imagine if your client could quickly scan and send the documents you need, using a delightful app on their phone? Compare that to the method you give them now. If you are like most firms, you request documents via email and embed a link to your portal. You hope that your clients will open your email and comply with your request promptly, but, in reality, you probably don’t get many fast responses. The reason is that it’s too much for your clients to deal with during their busy day.

Imagine your client is in the field all day and only has their phone with them. Asking them to open your email, locate the documents you need, find a scanner, scan them to their computer, and then log into your portal and upload them is asking them to step out of their day and essentially run a time-consuming errand for you. They WANT to send you the documents you need – the evidence of this is that you’ll often get an unusable texted photo of a document.

The experience you offer your clients matters. By choosing the right technology, your firm can become a seamless and welcome part of their day, using the same secure mobile technology that banks use to make things easier for customers. If you give clients a delightful mobile “accountant app” that they can use to scan and send you documents, e-sign documents, ask you questions, answer your questions, and more, you will have fully moved your firm into the 21st century. When you stop and think about it, email and your portal are probably the last remaining technologies you are using in your firm that were coded in the ’90s.

To see how your firm stacks up, consider taking this short quiz. At the end, you’ll receive a frank assessment of your firm’s areas of strengths, plus a list of possible hotspots that you can then work to alleviate in 2021.

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