Can CPAs become better business advisors through the use of analytical software tools such as Accpac's CFO and CCH's ProfitDriver?

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Or will they keep a historical, not a forward-looking, focus?

A fancy power hammer will not make me a great carpenter. Accpac CFO is simply a tool that enables forward-thinking accountants to provide high-value analysis without reinventing the wheel and creating endless spreadsheets. While these tools may trigger some accountants to start providing new, value-added services, I believe that most accountants still need to see the benefit of this type of service to clients before they embrace the tools. Further, some clients just do not care about that type of analysis; they want to know how much they made and how much is in the bank.

Michael J. Mehr, CPA
Accounting Computer & Software Solutions
Henderson, Nev.

Partner Insights

There are lots of great tools out there to help CPAs be better advisors, but will their clients pay for the time they need to invest to use these tools properly?

Gene Marks, CPA
The Marks Group
Philadelphia

The time for analytics to take off will be in one to two years, as the SOX wave passes, and the industry is ready again to focus on delivering added value, instead of focusing simply on being able to resource the work. That’s when individuals’ use of analytics will demonstrate who is forward-looking, and who is backward-looking. Those that are looking forward with their clients will be the ones who will experience the least client flight, and the greatest ongoing profitability from their clients.

Daniel Roberts
National Director of Assurance Innovation
Grant Thornton
 
Is the question can they? Or is it will they? I think that they can, but most won’t. I think that our education and experience prevents many CPAs from ever being willing or able to move into a forward-looking position. From the curriculum in most university accounting programs, all the way through our experiences in public practice (especially in smaller firms), we become so focused on looking backwards and at doing “what was done the year before” that we become unwilling or unable to do anything else. Our profession seems to place almost no value on creativity, and looking forward requires a creative mindset.

Name withheld

Having worked a little with the products, I can see tremendous benefit to the client and the firm in using them. However, I believe that those with a sales and marketing outlook and capability will be able to use these tools to improve clients’ operations, helping them move to the next level and sell new engagements. Those that have trouble selling their services will probably not be able to overcome that shortcoming just because these tools are available and will continue to be focused on the historical.

Zvi Gold, CPA
Goldstein Schechter Price Lucas Horwitz & Co.
Coral Gables, Fla.

CPAs have to become better advisors to retain clients. For SME clients, traditional accounting tasks are being done better and better with SME accounting software, so transactional processing is not an issue for clients. They will always need help interpreting information and formulating action plans. Please remember that such analytical tools are coming as a part of entry-level software like QuickBooks, where charts and graphs will pop out in Technicolor on command. If CPAs are only presenting historical financial information without analysis, then it is like driving down the highway, looking only through your rearview mirror.

Bruce Andersen, MBA, MS (Tax), CPA
BTA Consulting and Training
Los Angeles

The answer is a very loud “Yes.” The problem with our profession is that they are too compliance-oriented and prefer to stay comfortable with the historical numbers. The products you noted, and specifically Accpac CFO and its companion bundled products, make it much easier for CPAs to truly add value to their clients decision-making process by starting with the historical numbers. Our firm uses the tools to help our business owners look at opportunities to grow their businesses and create greater business value, including anything from analyzing situations, such as adding a new product line, to projecting what the future should look like when doing long-term succession planning.

Chris Falco, CPA
Falco Sult & Company
Redmond, Wash.

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