Millennial businesses want more diverse services from accounting firms

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Accounting firms should vary their services and use more digital cloud-based technology to attract millennial business clients, according to a new report.

The online technology company surveyed more than 1,000 millennial business leaders to find out what they want from accounting firms. While taxes rank at the top as their most wanted service, they also would like to see more firms providing a different set of services than previous generations. Fifty-four percent of millennials under the age of 40 opt for bookkeeping services from accounting firms, compared to 34 percent for those ages 40 to 55 and 30 percent for 56 and older.

Twenty-four percent include accounting technology recommendations and training in their services, three times as much as those 56 or older (8 percent) and higher than those ages 40 to 55 (16 percent).

In addition, 22 percent ask accounting firms to handle bill payment for their companies, while 14 percent of business owners 40 to 55 years of age, and 8 percent of those 56 and older, request bill payment services from firms.

The survey also found 20 percent of millennials indicated they need invoicing from accounting firms, while only 8 percent of those ages 40 to 55, and 4 percent of those 56 or older, need invoicing services.

“If your accounting firm focuses primarily on tax services, it may be missing evergreen opportunities to attract millennial business owners,” said Jason Blumer, founder of the Thriveal CPA Network, in a statement. “Services such as bookkeeping, invoicing and consultation are valuable throughout the entire year and represent opportunities to build profit and stabilize cash flow.”

Thirty-one percent of the millennial business leaders polled said their companies currently use CFO-level consulting services, while 52 percent said strategic insight and guidance are necessary from accounting firms.

Nearly 40 percent of the millennial business owners and decision makers polled said they want an accounting firm that has in-depth knowledge of their specific industry.

In addition, 42 percent said they want an accountant who can translate complex financial concepts into information they can understand. Twenty-four percent said their greatest accounting frustration is reporting, while 20 percent said it is forecasting and 17 percent indicated it is managing cash flow.

“The millennial generation currently includes more than 75 million members, with its oldest members holding decision-making positions within organizations,” said director of strategic accounts Charles Crabtree in a statement. “With the considerable impact of millennials on the business world, accounting firms that can meet and exceed their expectations will have a considerable competitive edge.”

In terms of billing, 44 percent of millennial business owners prefer monthly flat rates, while 35 percent said they want fixed fees per project.

The survey also found that 23 percent of millennial business owners 30 and younger use internet searches to find accounting firms, while 18 percent are influenced by advertising and 14 percent look for referrals from technology partners. Referrals from peers, friends or family lead the way at 64 percent for this group, but it’s lower than the percentages for previous generations (79 percent for those age 56 and older, and 83 percent for those ages 40 to 55).

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