Accounting software giant Sage recently commissioned research of 372 practice accountants and 305 SME directors to discover their thoughts on online accounting services.
Almost 75% of the accountants surveyed believe their working practices will shift more towards online services in the next three years and 41% said they would be focussing on them in the coming 12 months.
Sage discovered that at least seven out of ten accountants regularly work away from the office and 42% said clients were showing increased interest in collaborative reporting online. Mobile technology is of increasing value to accountants and almost 60% of them use smart phones and tablets on a daily basis.
However, practice accountants and SMEs do not see eye-to-eye on what services should be made available through apps. Accountants think tax planning, compliance services and bookkeeping are best suited to mobile apps, but SMEs are of the opinion that final accounts, financial services and business planning advice would be better.
Sage Accountants Division MD, Jim Scott, said that SME owners who have been brought up with Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google see collaborating with their contractor accountant as a natural progression to online banking.
Accountants need to get out there are find out what method of working together best suits each individual client. Not all businesses are interested in online accounting so accountants and clients have to sit down together and discuss how and where the data is accessed.