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Irreplaceable: How accountants can reverse the DIY tax return trend

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

The public perception of accountants is typically described as compliance processors or number crunchers—people who balance books and prepare tax returns. Unfortunately, this limited view clouds the true value of accounting professionals and can lead to some people choosing do-it-yourself tax software. After all, what’s the difference when it’s just about plugging in numbers, right? Wrong.

To beat the DIY tax return trend, accounting professionals need to position themselves in a new light—one that highlights their ability to become trusted advisors committed to helping their clients grow and thrive.

Freeing up time for advisory services

Shifting your firm’s focus to becoming a more strategic partner does not mean compliance services are not important. They most certainly are. But with tax automation technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to do much of the work for you, gone are the days of manually entering the same information over and over. Technology cannot only automate manual tasks, but it also increases accuracy and optimizes your tax workflow. It’s also affordable, even for small firms.

With the right tax technology in place, you can boost your productivity and free up time to offer more value-added, advisory-based services to your clients.

Overturn the DIY tax return trend by redefining the client relationship

Becoming a trusted business partner is about helping your clients pull the right financial levers in order to meet their business goals. If you don’t know what their goals are, ask them.

  • What are they looking to achieve over the next year?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What keeps them awake at night?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to position you and your firm as trusted advisors dedicated to helping your clients succeed, setting yourself apart from the DIY tax return trend.

Providing guidance on tax trends and legislation

When it comes to tax trends and regulations, the only constant is change. With your expert knowledge and the right research tool, you can gain fast access to trusted answers, even in a complex and ever-changing tax landscape. This helps you make confident decisions and provide meaningful insights to client queries that can set your firm apart from the competition.

By providing regular guidance on tax trends and legislation, you can change the perception of your firm. Think about the advice you’ve given clients repeatedly. Would it be beneficial to proactively share this type of information? Think about the ways your guidance has had a positive impact on your clients’ businesses and lives over the years. On the other hand, think about the potential harm it could do to the relationship if you had knowledge you didn’t share and it negatively impacted your client’s business. These are your strengths, so capitalize on them.

What is the DIY tax return trend missing?

Making the shift from a compliance-focused model to an advisory services one can increase revenue while building deeper long-term client relationships, which gives you an advantage over the DIY tax return trend. Your knowledge and experience are unique and in demand, so position yourself as a trusted partner, not just a once-a-year tax return provider.

Consider eliminating billable hours and changing your engagement strategy for new clients based on the value your firm brings to their business. Under a scalable, advisory services pricing model, services are geared toward identifying goals, setting the path toward those goals, and guiding your clients down each step of that path.

As you and your staff gain a deeper understanding of the expertise your clients really need, your firm will be empowered to identify additional opportunities for support and bring them to fruition. This changes the dynamic of your client relationships and lays out a clear scope of engagement. Plus, not having to wrestle with billable hours can alleviate stress.

When you can efficiently determine the value you bring to the customer from an advisory standpoint, you can be more selective of the clients you choose to serve in the future. The shift to advisory also paves the way for a year-round relationship and reinforces that you are not just a transactional expense.

In the end, you’ll be seen as a strategic partner instead of only a number-cruncher—and your firm will easily bypass the DIY tax return trend by demonstrating that your experience is irreplaceable. Most importantly, however, you will feel that you’re truly making a difference in your clients’ business and financial lives.

Ready to make that difference? Start your Practice Forward journey today.

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