Art of Accounting: Everything you are doing today will be ‘old school’ tomorrow

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Are you keeping up? When you look back, would you think you did it right or could have done better? Today whatever you are doing is merely allowing you to stay close to the rapid changes. Ask your tomorrow self if today’s self has positioned you adequately and responsibly. If you don’t like the answer, you have time to change it. 

We are living in a world where you can measure your heartbeat, know the yardage to the water hazard or green, or get phone calls on a wristwatch that even Dick Tracy would envy. Your car’s glove compartment that used to be overflowing with maps and some treasured directions is now pretty empty, being replaced with a GPS that speaks to you and redirects you to avoid traffic delays. And your phone messages are transcribed and sent to you as a text. Yet many accounting firms are working with technology that is 20 years old.

The quick adoption of some technology when COVID started has lulled many firms into thinking they have become state of the art when all that happened is that much of what those firms would have evolved into during the next five years has been crunched into a 30-day period. That did not move you further; it just allowed you to jump start where you were normally heading.

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You have to take stock of where you are and the direction you are following. The technology is here. Staff management, training and retention need work, but the methods are laid out (just read some of my previous columns for starters). Your client service techniques must include effective and frequent communications that deliver value at every interaction. If you can’t do this, the client’s next accountant will.

Today’s fast-moving business climate will be classified pretty much as “old school” tomorrow. You have a choice in front of you. Continue as you are and build up your old school credentials, or give yourself a look at reality and ask how you will feel tomorrow about being old school today and then consider making some changes.

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Do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” He also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. He is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where he shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. He welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or [email protected].

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