Two thirds of accountants say that strategic planning and financial analysis are challenging or extremely challenging for their business clients, according to a recent survey, and many are turning to the cloud to help.

The poll, conducted by Accounting Today, asked approximately 400 public accountants to rank which areas were most challenging for businesses; strategic planning, at 64.3%, and financial analysis, at 62.4%, topped the list, with compliance at close third at 55.6%. The least challenging area was basic accounting and bookkeeping, with less than a quarter of accountants (24.1%) reporting that these were a challenge for their business clients.

Just over a fifth (21.7%) of those surveyed reported that they were already offering clients help in this area by using cloud-based accounting and finance solutions to deliver more timely, informed advice and reporting. And just under half (46%) reported that this kind of cloud-enabled value-added service -- generally known as “client accounting services” – would be valuable to their clients.

Of those who perceived client accounting services as valuable, the most commonly cited reasons were the ability of accountants and clients to interact more frequently and efficiently, and access to more accurate data. Among those who didn’t think CAS would be valuable for their clients, many expressed concern about the security of data online, and other expressed concern about their clients’ competence and level of technological expertise.

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