[IMGCAP(1)]Being regularly immersed in the cloud business, I often forget that no matter how often I have the conversations about cloud and collaborations, they still bear repeating.

In fact, many of you may have heard the conversations, listened to the pitches, read the ads, maybe even sat through the demos and webinars. But, to truly understand the importance of cloud technology and services to an accounting professional, it cannot be overstated that you need look no further than your own clients. 

Moving toward a new way of doing business becomes about, well, what it’s always been about for accountants: being the most trusted advisor and serving your clients in the best possible way. The tools available to do the job are there, through triple-layered redundancies at data centers to real-time connection with your client. This is not only the promise of cloud accounting—it is reality, pure and simple.

The question accounting professionals really need to be asking themselves now is not whether to move this function or that function to the cloud, but what they want the future of their business to look like.

One of the greatest goals for an accountant to reach is that one-to-one relationship with a client and it has never been easier to do so. When you have access, you have a connection. And when you have a connection, you have a relationship. This is what accounting in the cloud is all about, not servers and bits and bytes.

When you can have multiple reasons throughout the year to connect with a client, a bond forms. Being on the same system, without having to worry about upgrades, uploads or uptime will bring that connection to the forefront and your business relationship to a deeper level.

The simple matter is, as an accountant you are already like the doctor for your clients. Your medical charts are the books, the invoices, the payroll you examine. Yet, instead of a once-a-year physical (i.e. tax time), why not stay connected throughout the year with your clients and actually be proactive, rather than reactive? Current cloud tools and services allow this to be a reality.

When you can check invoices on your mobile device, or approve invoices from wherever you are, it will impress the clients that don’t expect it, as well as the ones that do. And let’s face it: an increasing number of businesses are expecting to be more collaborative with their service providers. Yes, that includes accountants possibly more than any other.

The alternative to not staying regularly connected with your clients is lost business. Accountants live on referrals and you will increasingly need to show you are worth referring. Being cloud active and cloud knowledgeable are the first steps toward a better client relationship, as well as retaining the business you already have and possibly will have.

Jamie Sutherland is the president of Xero US.

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