A Lesson from Kodak for Accountants
By Joel Oliver
Over the past few months I have read a lot of blog posts, LinkedIn articles and news stories from around the world that talk about change in the accountancy profession.
In particular, the big shift seems to revolve around four change points:
- Compliance work is reducing or disappearing
- Software does more and may replace the role of accountants
- Government is moving into the accountancy market using digitisation
- Top 10 firms like KPMG are aggressively targeting smaller clients.
If you pause to consider the potential impact here, it’s big… Big enough to be worrying. It’s easy to see how an emotional bond between the business owner and the accounting software company will become stronger. There is only a very small step before automation cuts accountants out of the loop completely, especially for smaller businesses and those who need a simple tax return or statutory accounts.
In Australia things have progressed even more, with ATO (equivalent of HMRC in the UK) launching their own App! I have seen scores of confused accountants promoting it on their website, failing to understand that they are giving away control of their clients who they should be protecting!
At the same time, emails from KPMG offer accountancy services to small businesses from as little as £125 per month!
So what can we learn from Kodak?
Most firms we speak to don’t fully understand what has been going on. Those that do, don’t believe the risks are real enough to take action.
That’s why I want to share the Kodak story with you. Stop and think for a moment. If you want to take a photograph, what do you reach for? If you’re old enough then you’ll remember the days of slugging around the old SLR… The ‘pop’ when you opened your new roll of film… That unmistakable smell – and the long wait for Kodak to post back your photos. Kodak dominated the film processing market place and was once responsible for 90% of film production, employing over 140,000 staff globally. They filed for bankruptcy in 2012!
Today, it’s all done in an instant. Grab your phone, take a picture and with the help of an App, it’s shared with the world in seconds – done!
So what can we learn?
The Kodak lesson is clear. No matter how good you are right now, you must keep up with the flow and the latest technology to maintain appropriate dialogue with your clients – and your staff! As a firm, regardless of your size, it’s essential that you consider how you interact with your clients today – and how you will engage with them in the future.
To protect your clients (both current and future) you need to manage your relationship with them, communicating and engaging with them in the App world. That means launching your own branded App to put you and your firm back in the driving seat.
Having your own App positions your firm as the trusted advisor in a technology-driven world. Your App is the touch-stone or access point to everything accounting and finance related so whenever your client wants to access a portal, software, HMRC or ATO, they do it through your App on their Smartphone.
Published March 2016