Attending the Xerocon in San Francisco and Brisbane really gave me a first hand hand look into the future of the accounting industry and how the cloud really fits into that future. There was great forward thinking perspective shared at these conferences and now I want to share my observations with you.
1) More companies and accountants embracing multi country and cross border business activity, i.e. Xero and its push to Asia (Singapore and Hong Kong) in Brisbane. It makes sense as each of the markets are much smaller (and even when combined) don't compare to the size and opportunity in the U.S. market.
2) Big 4 embracing cloud. PwC KPMG and Deloitte all have Cloud Evangelists and understand that they need to move downmarket and work with SMB's who have a lot of value to add. Both clients and staff will benefit from this. Will happen in US, even though the market is different.
3) More Add-ons will be released although they seem to be smaller and my guess is many of them won't make it because of undercapitalization, too much competition, or they won't innovate fast enough.
4) There is an interesting dynamic between accountants and bookkeepers in Australia (AU). I had heard about it from afar. But seeing it play out in person was quite entertaining. That's probably enough said on that topic.
5) Bank feeds, banking, and payments are way more advanced in Australia and New Zealand (NZ). Not sure if it is the government regulatory environment or what, but there is a major difference. The U.S. just announced there will be big direct integrations coming with several major U.S. banks plus a deal with Wells Fargo very soon. Hooray for that. From talking to people from all over the world, when bank feeds came to fruition in UK, that was when Xero's U.K. presence was jump started. Here's to hoping the same will happen in the U.S.
6) The future of the accounting profession is in providing value. Different people can do that in different ways. And different people have different skill sets. But one thing is certain, with automation, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, if you are not adding some sort of value to your clients, your business will die a slow death.
7) There was lots of talk about tax, work papers, and the Xero Practice Manager. Things are very different from this standpoint in the U.S., AU, and NZ. Many Xero partners in AU use Xero Practice Manager, but it seems they use it only for the tax, they don’t only use it for the functionality they get with work papers or workflow. I understand that tax is seemingly way less complex in the AU than in U.S., but I have been pushing for Xero data to move into our tax software for a couple of years, and in my opinion it is nowhere close to that in the U.S. I also believe that makes Xero a deal killer for many BIG firms in the U.S. With that said, the opportunity for workflow, practice management, and communication tools are way greater in the U.S. than in AU or NZ for the likes of Karbon, the task and workflow software for accounting firms.
Just as I had anticipated, the U.S. is a few years behind NZ and AU. But if you pay attention and watch carefully, the future in the U.S. can be predicted from the accounting profession history in NZ and AU. The next few years are going to be a lot of fun. Put your seatbelt on and buckle up!
Looking for more information on bringing your business to the U.S.? Click here to view our guide on ‘Expanding Your Company to the US’.
Check out this webinar recorded while I was in Australia this month (September 2016) where Lisa Callaghan from Interactive Accounting and I discussed expanding to the US, as well as the benefits of having local foreign advisors collaborate to provide a global back office and compliance solution. Click the below link to view the recording.
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