What do Australia and New Zealand accounting firms say is their biggest challenge? Too much work, not enough time
Wolters Kluwer says maximising use of integrated, cloud-based technology is key to engaging staff, driving efficiency, and delivering value-added services to clients during global talent squeeze.
Results of the Wolters Kluwer CCH 2022-23 Tax Season Challenges survey indicate that accounting firms may have reached a tipping point when it comes to coping with the talent shortage that has plagued the tax industry for the last several years. For the first time, respondents ranked work-life balance as their #1 challenge, and their #2- and #3-ranked challenges were time-related, too: finding time to provide value-added advisory services to clients and reducing the time spent tracking down data from clients during tax time.
More than 430 firms participated in the survey, conducted by Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Asia Pacific (APAC). A quick look at survey highlights demonstrates:
- 59% of small firms and 38% of large firms ranked creating work-life balance as a significant challenge.
- 60% of all firms said that improving operational workflows and standardising processes is their top strategic goal in the next 24 months – outranking revenue growth.
- 46% of all firms said that finding time to offer clients value-added advisory services is a significant challenge, even though 85% said that their clients are expecting them to deliver strategic tax advice.
- 45% said that wasting time chasing down client information is a major challenge.
Izzy Silva, Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting APAC Managing Director, said, “The Wolters Kluwer Tax Season Challenges Survey results reinforce that business confidence is high among accounting firms. So, while revenue growth is still important, their most pressing goal is to improve profitability by increasing workflow efficiencies, and delivering greater value to clients, while also fostering the kind of work-life balance that protects employees from burn out and keeping them engaged. At Wolters Kluwer, we see integrated, cloud-based technology as a big part of the solution.”
Survey Says Technology Can Help Accounting Firms Manage the Challenges of Today and Tomorrow
The Wolters Kluwer CCH 2022-23 Tax Season Challenges survey found that:
- Firms are already leveraging technology to drive efficiencies but acknowledge they can do more to leverage their current tech investments to their fullest potential: 66% of small firms and 44% of large firms reported that technology significantly reduces the number of hours they spend per client/tax return. Less than 1% of all respondents said they were using their current tech stack to its fullest potential.
- There’s a positive correlation between technology adoption and firm confidence: 46% of firms that are proactive in digital uptake said they were extremely confident in their ability to manage future challenges and client expectations, compared with 24% of firms who don’t consider themselves early tech adopters.
- Two of the top three technologies that firms plan to adopt in the coming year support client collaboration, and data security ranked as one of the top tech features they’re seeking. Wolters Kluwer attributes these findings to the increasing number of firms that are recognising that intelligent, cloud-based practice management technology is key to enabling remote work, virtual client meetings, digital document signing and other forms of client collaboration that can drive efficiency in a secure environment.
Rakesh Naidu, Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting APAC Head of Product, said, “In 2023, it’s time to focus on improving work life balance which is critical to retaining good talent amidst the current talent shortage. Forward-thinking firms are looking to their tech stack to support and engage staff by helping reclaim precious time at every step of their workflow. We’ve designed CCH iFirm, our unified suite of cloud-based firm management tools, to make firm operations and client collaboration easier and more efficient. Wolters Kluwer technologies help accounting professionals reclaim valuable hours in their day, so they can focus on what’s most important for themselves and their business.”