Baldwins regional CEO: All firms must become ‘digital-first’

Baldwins regional CEO: All firms must become ‘digital-first’

Pandemic has rapidly accelerated the need for tech

Baldwins regional CEO: All firms must become ‘digital-first’

Technology adoption must be accelerated and become a core part of any accountancy practice as the world moves into a post-pandemic phase, says David Owens, regional CEO at Baldwins.

Owens believes this is more than just getting to grips with video calling clients but means having “digital DNA” in the business.

“We need to have digital DNA in all our businesses from now on because our clients get it, they buy it, they’ve adopted it and accountants really need to be ahead of the curve. They’ve got to future-proof themselves, because this is the way business as usual looks like now,” he says.

“As a business, we are really heavily looking at our transformation to a full digital platform. We always were going to go down that road, but the coronavirus has most definitely accelerated the process,” Owens adds.

Coronavirus and the near-global lockdown that has ensued has forced businesses in virtually every industry to reassess the way they work.

Owens admits accountancy is no different but suggests the changes afoot are more pronounced for what he acknowledges is a traditional profession.

“The tech was always there but we are, let’s face it, an old-fashioned profession and the impact of coronavirus has forced us to take a look at our own processes and systems,” he says. “Do we actually need for example, all of that office space in the UK when everybody has managed from home?”

In addition, Owens says that Baldwins have stopped sending important documents via mail and instead use secure paperless documentation, something that clients “love” and reduces costs.

The technological shift in accountancy could see sole trader accountants suffer, says Owens, as the investment in technology required to future-proof their business is simply too much. He adds that as a former business owner himself, he saw technology costs rising over the coming years and decided it wouldn’t be possible to survive and offer the necessary level of service to clients.

The shift from accountants’ work being mainly compliance-based to advisory has a long history, but like tech adoption, was something that in reality moved at a much slower pace. But lockdown has seen a “paradigm shift” in that regard too.

“It’s no good just relying on some sort of software dashboard that’s got it all there,” says Owens. “I see us as accountants as putting together a jigsaw where we work with the client to make the picture right for them.”

“The data has always been there we’re just getting it off a file quicker on a software platform. If we as accountants do not interpret processed digital data it stays as just that – data – it needs to be meaningful information. Turning data into timely meaningful information will assist the advisor to become that trusted advisor.”

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