Whenever I talk with accountants about cloud accounting I suspect that many suffer from FOMO. Sometimes their FOMO has worked in their favour and prompted them to take action. More often their FOMO is holding them back from making a decision. And the constant deferral of that decision is slowing down the development of their practice.
FOMO is more commonly used to describe the anxiousness we feel that others might be having more rewarding experiences than us – often by attending an event to which we have not been invited. This causes a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).
Some of the sole practitioner accountants who want to work with me do so because their FOMO is related to the fact that other accountants appear to be more successful than them. Rather than simply continuing to work alone, a FOMO has prompted these accountants to seek my help and encouragement. That’s great, but it’s not the FOMO to which this blog post refers.
The concept of ‘cloud accounting’ software has been around for almost ten years. Throughout this time there have been commentators telling accountants that they must ’embrace the cloud’.
Some of the accountants who have done so will now only take on new clients who are either already using a specific cloud accounting solution, or who are prepared to move onto it. Others are happy to work with clients whichever cloud or manual accounting system they use.
Many other accountants have held back from exploring the options or from making a decision. In part this is often due to FOMO. Or perhaps, more accurately a FOMAWC (Fear Of Making A Wrong Choice).
Is it worth it?
What seems to be happening is that many accountants are often NOT (yet) fully aware of how much potential cloud accounting has to revolutionise bookkeeping and accounting services. Nor are they aware of quite how much of an impact this will have on their practice in the next few years.
These apps provide many opportunities to enhance client service, to steal an edge on one’s competitors and to build a more successful and sustainable practice, faster than might otherwise be the case. Accountants will start to lose out if they are unable to advise clients as to which apps work with their bookkeeping system and which are well suited to the client in question.
What is also clear to me is that accountants now need to adopt a cloud accounting solution for their own practice. It is only after doing this that they really ‘get’ cloud accounting and can genuinely enthuse about the benefits to clients.
What’s the problem?
But here is the real issue. This is where the FOMO comes into play as there are so many options. There is a choice to be made. The decision will therefore take time. Time we don’t have. We’re already busy and stretched. Yet we would want to make time to research the options, to compare them, to talk with other accountants and to decide whether to only work with one supplier or to work with more than one. And, which one to use for the accounting practice itself.
Perhaps we are also aware of the concept of conducing a ‘feasibility analysis’. Wow. That will be time consuming too. When your practice is running ok, it’s hard to even think about making time to conduct such an exercise in preparation for investing in some new technology.
Many older accountants remember getting their fingers burned when they first chose a desktop accounts preparation system, a tax return system or any of the other tech in which they have invested over the last 10-20 years. Often the tech was oversold but many accountants didn’t feel it was so bad that they needed to look into switching to something new.
Accountants often feel trapped. They don’t like the system they have been using but they doubt that any of the alternatives would be sufficiently better. They also doubt whether the hassle of switching from one to another is really going to be worthwhile.
Plus, those past experiences also impact the decision making process. When choosing a new system or tech solution, we want to identify which features and benefits really matter to us and our clients. This isn’t always obvious until too late.
Necessary features and benefits
This reluctance to move forwards is understandable. But it can also cause stagnation. And anyway, you might not understand the real benefits to you and your practice of some of the features of the different options. This is a frequent issue in all works of life from choosing a new car, to a new kitchen and even a new laptop.
Some suppliers are wise to this and seek to get you on board with low cost initial offers – so you can effectively ‘try before you buy’.
Sorry, but I’m not in a position to recommend one supplier over another.
Online forums frequently reflect questions from sole practitioner accountants asking “Which is the best cloud bookkeeping system for a small practice like mine?” No doubt this is in the hope that a consensus has emerged as to the key options. However most respondents don’t have the experience to give a fully researched reply; they simply recommend the solution they have chosen – or the one they switched to after first trying something else.
This crowd sourcing of a short-list of options can be useful though, even if it rarely provides a definitive answer. What’s best for one accountant and their client base won’t always be best for others.
There is also the risk of making your choice only because it allows you to continue doing things the way you have always done them. This seems good initially as it minimises disruption. However it can also be very limiting and prevent you from taking advantage of new techniques that could help evolve your client service and to develop related advisory services.
Accountants I talk with who have yet to move their practice into the cloud feel that they can’t afford to pick one solution at random and then find later that it isn’t the BEST. So they put off exploring the options and making a decision. They have a FOMO and may end up with a less than optimal solution in due course when they rush to make a decision. And then they will be stuck with it – as they won’t want to spend time switching later.
I recommend that you book a series of one hour ‘Cloud bookkeeping research meetings’ (with yourself) in your diary over the next few weeks and set a deadline to move your practice into the cloud before the summer. I honestly don’t think you can afford to leave this any longer.