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How to help your clients see value in both man and machine

It’s no surprise that 8 in 10 business owners say they take on at least one financial activity for their business. And, they’re often left vetting their processes manually to ensure accuracy because of it, says a recent QuickBooks® Payroll survey.

When it comes to payroll, business owners spend almost 5 hours each pay period calculating, filing, and paying payroll taxes for their employees. That’s 21 days a year for a process they describe as “frustrating,” “complicated,” and “confusing.”

Many small business owners have an ‘I know best’ mindset

When asked why they take on financial tasks on their own, 4 in 5 business owners said they are the best people to manage their finances. Only 1 in 10 gets some kind of help from an in-house finance or accounting employee.

But, this confidence begins to unravel when more than 60% admit they didn’t realize how time-consuming payroll would be. Another 7 out of 10 say it’s equally challenging to stay on top of payroll tax and HR compliance laws. Given a choice, 6 in 10 prefer to leave payroll processing to the professionals.

So, why don’t business owners outsource? Being the most suitable person to manage and perform financial tasks is more of a reaction than the cause, the survey says.

When asked why they choose to keep financial tasks to themselves or in-house, pricing plays a major role. But, price is far from being the only justification. Respondents say bad experiences have led them to see little value in outsourcing essential tasks. Other reasons point to more misconceptions. Business owners say:

  • They don’t trust anyone to put their business first.
  • They can’t find someone reliable to outsource work to.
  • Their industry is too niche for an outsider to understand.
  • They can’t find someone local to outsource work to.

Technology, on the other hand, proves dependable. 72% of survey respondents have experienced the benefits of an automated payroll solution. The same cohort credits their solution for maximizing deductions and keeping money in the business. And, that’s improving their cash flow.

Use technology to top off a rich client experience

In the last decade, accounting professionals have been racing to create client experiences that go beyond completing tasks one could do with technology. Automation has done so well that business owners can rattle off the expected advantages, despite what they may be practicing in real life. To complete that experience, accounting professionals need to show their expertise and a human perspective.

And, that starts with trust, not technology, as Cassidy Jakovickas shared. The California-based CPA believes using technology to add value to your firm isn’t just about automation. Instead, it’s leveraging the technology to become your clients’ go-to expert who has their best interests in mind.

Business owners know their strengths. Survey respondents said they have other things to do instead of payroll and financial tasks. They’d rather be working on improving their product or service offerings, spending more time with customers, networking, and training their employees.

As their businesses grow, business owners’ financial needs change. In fact, business owners in their first years rank bookkeeping and tax services as the highest valued accountant services. By the following year, it’s all about cash planning and forecasting, suggesting they’re looking to the future. It’s just another example of how important it is to elevate your firm’s capabilities, from compliance to advisory and strategic planning. The good news is that the opportunity is here, and it’s time to act.

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