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The NZ 2014 GBU is nearly here!

As we count down to the release of the 2014 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (GBU) benchmarking report for the NZ Accounting profession, we thought we would have a look back at some of the key results from 2013.

The 2014 GBU will be launched on Wednesday, 10 December 2014, 2:30-3:45pm with an Industry Insights webinar. The team at CCH Business Fitness NZ will guide you through the results looking at the trends from the industry and what the best performing firms are doing differently. 

You can register for the webinar and your copy of the 2014 GBU here.

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Regional vs. Metro – a cloud-based practice is the equaliser

Whether we're operating in the city or the bush, we're always trying to differentiate ourselves in our own, but increasingly competitive, market. We have to keep costs down, for both our own businesses and our clients. And, for the entrepreneurial ones among us, there's the search for ways to grow – profitably and sustainably.

With our highly regulated economy, it's been a challenge for accountants to stay on top of the ever changing compliance regime. Being confident that the information you have is the latest available, has been problematic. 

Cloud, and the game changing NBN, is now transforming the way we all work – particularly for those in regional areas.

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Cloud Accounting Creating an Equal Playing Field for SMEs – and Opportunities for Trusted Advisors

For those businesses that want to grow it can be a challenge, or even an issue, sourcing the appropriate funding levels needed to help facilitate that development. In fact for some small businesses they only know their cash flow position when it could be too late and no bank will look at them.

Imagine this, if every one of your smaller enterprise clients was operating with an appropriate level of easy to use accounting solutions that gave them a daily position on cash flow, stock levels and resources and one that you can see and advise on in real time.

With the influx of cloud-based accounting platforms – whether they primarily are used for bookkeeping or more strategic financial purposes, there is now no reason why SMEs should not be operating with an appropriate level of proactive, sophisticated financial advice - the same cost and tax-minimisation intelligence that's been giving their larger counterparts an unfair advantage for too long.

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Cutting Red Tape – targeting $500 million in savings

For most of us accountants, your university degree focused on compliance and the complex number crunching you needed to master to balance the books. There was this sense that clients delivered folders of invoices and shoes boxes of receipts for you to work your end of financial year magic. In between these pressure times, everyone more or less sat in the dark. Compliance was the future – remember that?

But now the way SMEs achieve compliance is changing, thanks to an interesting combination of technology and government action and nowhere are the changes being seen more graphically than in Australia. However in 2014, we ranked 124th of 148 countries for 'burden of government regulation' in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index. The Productivity Commission estimates that regulation compliance costs could amount to as much as a whopping four percent of Australia's GDP.

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SMEs reaching for cloud accounting partnerships

One of the great things that we get to do here is work with industry to help determine roadmaps for future solutions and how our clients, and in turn, their own clients react to solutions available today. Key to our recently launched research, "Can the accounting profession 'keep up' with clients and the cloud" is how SMEs are reacting to the cloud accounting packages available today and the new business potential for trusted advisors.

Great news – and certainly more positive than the results from our 2013 study – this year Australian SMEs are displaying a highly positive attitude to cloud computing - whether they are current users or still in the planning stage. We can see from anecdotal feedback in the 2014 survey their positive response to cloud and the new business potential for their trusted advisors.

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Use it or lose it – cloud technologies and the age issue

Today I wanted to have 'that talk' with all of the professional accountants out there. Let's look at how age is determining the potential for accounting practices to evolve from narrow compliance roles to profitable, trusted adviser hubs.

Car advertisements no longer highlight details of the engine capacity – what's under the bonnet is a given. What buyers are interested in is the comfort, fuel efficiency and the comms and sound systems. Similarly, we're getting to the point where cloud is a given and we can move on to talking just about the apps. But this is a very age related statement. 

As confirmed by recent Wolters Kluwer, CCH research, the answer to the title of the report - "Can the accounting profession 'keep up' with clients and the cloud" - depends very much on how old you are.

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Cloud is assumed, it’s now about business transformation

Cloud is the business model for the future – and for all sectors of the economy. As we endeavour to better understand the specific interests of our industry, Wolters Kluwer, CCH recently undertook a survey of accounting firms and SMEs. We asked them about their technology investment strategies and business transformation perspectives. We wanted to take a practical look at how the accounting profession is positioned to profitably add value for clients – courtesy of cloud-based enabling technologies.

Last week we launched our "Can the accounting profession 'keep up' with clients and the cloud" report, and it's clear that accountants are substantially on the back foot, being driven to change and cloud-based accounting packages by client demand. 

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Who do SMEs trust for Advice? How will this impact the use of Cloud?

Last year we established in our annual research "SMEs – the fine line between failure and success" that accountants were the primary advisor for SMEs. Ranking 69% higher than a business partner on the trustworthy scale for financial and business advice, and even 82% more trustworthy than their lawyer – accountants led the way. Family and friends unsurprisingly ranked at the bottom of the scale.

Great news overall for the accounting profession and results that, at the time made waves with a range of influencers in the business community. When we drilled down to the management of SME clients in this same report, we found that the average accountant spends 63% of their time providing transactional / administrative services. A smaller proportion of time (37%) is spent providing advice to help manage their business.

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Exclusive Research: Can the accounting profession 'keep up' with clients and the cloud?

It's quite a confronting question isn't it? Or maybe it's not – this may all depend where you are along the cloud computing cycle. We don't need to tell you that this term 'has been used beyond saturation point in recent years', nor that it is 'the over-riding strategy that will dominate the technology landscape for a generation' (CapioIT October 2014).

So to better understand where the industry and SMEs are at in relation to cloud preparedness we commissioned an exclusive research report, Can the Accounting Profession Keep up with Clients and the Cloud? Launching next week, we wanted to share some of those highlights with you upfront. Our research partner is Phil Hassey of CapioIT, an IT cloud analyst and expert in translating the potential measurable benefits of the cloud against the reality of the every day.

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Proudly Gen Y, Self-Confessed Lover of Technology and Change

When I was 11, my dad brought a computer home. By the end of the day, I'd pulled it apart and put it back together again. Several years later and with a room full of devices in various states of construction, it was natural for me to head in the direction of an IT degree. But it wasn't what I thought it would be. The only subject I excelled in during that degree was accounting.

So my first move was to join an accounting firm and study accountancy via distance education at night. But my life took an even stranger turn when I ironically gravitated towards the IT solutions in an accountancy environment. And that's when the idea started to form that eventually that perhaps the mix was what I was searching for and that one day I could work for a software accounting firm. 

My role in the accounting practice that I was working for had been to implement a software accounting suite. It was part of the CCH product set and this provided me with the title 'product specialist'. So with my in-practice understanding of how the suite worked and my appreciation of the benefits of the software, when an opportunity came up at Wolters Kluwer CCH and I grabbed it. It's a perspective that has helped me build up a strong understanding of both the technology and strategy side of the business. Coming from the industry has really helped.

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