Vast new advisory opportunities are pushing CPAs to seek efficiencies in compliance work. Smart outsourcing solutions offer a new path to expanding a CPA firm’s capabilities.
How do you see CPA firms faring in this economy?
The financial meltdown presents mixed challenges for the accounting industry. With revenues in decline, most companies are looking for expenses to cut and typically the consulting work performed by accounting firms is one of the first items to go because it is perceived as non-essential. We have even seen some declines in compliance work as taxpayers try to prepare their own tax returns, but this is a very short-term phenomenon. Not only will we see a dramatic increase in work from people gaining a renewed appreciation for the work their accountants do for them, but the new regulations that are sure to be rolled out as a governmental reaction to the struggles of the financial system will lead to new opportunities and greater demand for CPAs.
Do you think firms are ready for a new surge in work?
As demand increases for CPAs to consult with their clients on the effects of new regulation, they will be forced to reallocate their talent pool and find more efficient ways to process the compliance work that is the staple of the industry. We believe that this search for efficiency coupled with the increase in demand will lead more firms to consider outsourcing.
What do CPAs misunderstand about outsourcing?
Although many think of outsourcing as sending jobs and data offshore, the fact is that SurePrep processed more outsourced tax returns inside the U.S. than offshore this year. Our onshore tax outsourcing service grew dramatically this past year while receiving the highest quality rankings in our seven-year history. As CPA firms are forced to look for new ways of getting work done, they need to take another look at outsourcing.
How can technology help?
Performing basic tasks like making notes and ticking workpapers can be challenging if a firm does not deploy the proper tools. OCR tools like 1040SCAN™ are relatively new technologies that help with the transition to a paperless workflow. By automating much of the source document organization and data entry into tax software, OCR not only reduces the workload for preparers but it also provides the reviewer a complete set of bookmarked electronic workpapers, resulting in a much more efficient review process.
Included with1040SCAN™ is a source document editor called the SP Binder. Think of SP Binder as a PDF editor that is designed specifically for accountants and allows you to duplicate all the things you did in your old paper-based workflow in a truly paperless environment. SP Binder is a must-have for any firm seriously considering a paperless workflow.
These changes to an electronic environment from a paper environment pose some great challenges. But the right tools like 1040SCAN™ and SP Binder definitely offer firms greater efficiencies and a smoother transition to a paperless workflow.