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Web survey points to high level of optimism amongst accountants

24 May 2010

EXMOUTH, May 2010 – An online survey points to high levels of optimism amongst accountants in practice with 61% of those who took part, saying that they are looking to invest in practice technology over the next 6 months. This figure points to the fact that the profession is gearing up for the future and sees IT as the best way to meet the current economic challenges by helping to reduce costs, increase efficiency and maximise productivity.

According to the accountants that took part in the poll, their investment strategies in IT are thought to provide good value for money with 35% saying that they were completely happy with their investment and 57% said that they were happy to an extent.

The survey was conducted during an Accountancy Age interactive online web seminar that looked at how technology is expected to reduce operating costs in accountancy practices over the next decade. Taking part in the discussion, chaired by Kevin Reed, Deputy Editor of Accountancy Age, were Jerry Rihll, Managing Director of accountancy software developers, Digita, Kevin Salter, Partner of Glover Stanbury & Co and David Elton, a change management specialist with PA Consulting Group.

The panel discussed some of the new technology innovations that are making this period one of the most exciting times to be working in the profession Tax Exchange, a new system developed by Digita and already short-listed for a major technology innovation award, provided an excellent example of how electronic data can now be imported without any re-keying of data. Because the data is being transferred from system to system without human intervention, the risk of error is reduced and it is estimated that the time taken to gather client data will be reduced by as much as 90%. The immediate benefit for practices is that they are able to utilise non-qualified staff in the collation process at a lower hourly cost allowing qualified staff to concentrate on consultancy services that attract higher fees.

The discussion moved on to consider the developments in digital document management systems which now integrate neatly into the professional’s specialist environment. It makes no sense from a cost point of view to store documents manually, especially when archiving and retrieving costs are added to the equation. The reality is that documents can be filed directly from within the tax program and to complete the circle, these same client facing documents can be published automatically providing a complete end to end web based service to those clients that want it.

Communicating and interacting electronically with clients also helps to keep costs down and helps to differentiate the practice from the fixed price bucket shop. The heightened security provided by client portals, suits the practice environment perfectly allowing documents such as completed tax returns and other confidential documents to be placed in the client’s own secure area on the practice’s own website. Clients can then enter their tax compliance data directly which is then ‘pushed’ straight into the practice’s personal tax database.

The panel concluded that new products and technologies are attractive investments because they can help reduce operating costs; a critical advantage in the global business environment.

A supporting guide entitled the ‘Perfect Practice for the Next Decade’ is available to download from http://www.digita.com/perfectpractice and the web seminar can be viewed in full at http://www.digita.com/accountancyagewebinar.


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