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Accountants must overcome disruptions

Accounting businesses must find ways to leverage the disruptions challenging the industry in order for client relationships to prosper.

“Technological advances continue to be profound,” Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) chief executive Andrew Conway told the IPA 2015 National Congress on the Gold Coast last Friday.

“Our challenge is to really think about the impact that technology is having on your practice, the way your clients are interacting and what you can do to leverage that.

“It’s fair to say that we always hear the term disruption, but what does it mean for us as an organisation and what does it mean for accountants?

“This might not come as a surprise, but compliance work is drying up.”

Conway said while it was not drying up at the rate some people were suggesting, it was an inevitable shift that accountants had to acknowledge and tackle.

“I don’t need to tell you that if you’re in practice, you know the demands your clients are placing on you are becoming very different and they’re expecting more from you arguably for less,” he said.

“The fact is clients expect that level of service from you beyond just the compliance-based activity, so our challenge is how we help our members to position for that change and disruption.

“Technology has changed significantly and business is changing, so the way that we’re engaging has changed dramatically.

“So what are we doing about that?”

He added it was critical for accountants not only to embrace the ongoing change, but to also ensure they were in a position to drive that change to best service their clients.

“With ongoing disruption at various levels, I implore you to consider the impacts of disruption and how you may reshape your business model that best adapts and capitalises on them,” he said.

Importantly, the accountant’s commodity was knowledge, he said.

“But the value of your knowledge is determined by the currency of it,” he said.

“What we’re trying to do is be smarter, faster and cheaper to become more competitive and to prosper.

“Our collective challenge is about turning ourselves from being a trusted adviser to being the trusted productivity adviser – the person that your clients come to [in order] to make their business more productive.

“You have that trust bestowed on you by your clients; they respect you and they want that service from you to grow.”

He said the IPA had a relentless focus on being practical, relevant and responsive.

During the opening address, it was announced Conway has signed on for another five years as IPA chief executive.

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