Accounting Influencers Roundtable

Accounting
Influencers
Roundtable

The Collaboration Catalyst: Tech Vendors + Accountants

How are software vendors serving accountants? Insights from influencers Trevor Greenway, Val Steed, Vipul Sheth, Stephen Heathcote & Dwayne Bragonier

The Accounting Answers Podcast, hosted by Rob Brown, asks critical questions of the experts, leaders and influencers who shape the decision-making of accountants, CPAs and finance professionals. Today we ask:

What could the tech/software vendors do better to serve accountants?

You’ll hear insightful and passionate answers from these 5 experts and influencers:

Dwayne Bragonier | Renowned tech leader, author, recognized for practical, cutting-edge process improvement

Stephen Heathcote | Chief Executive Officer at PrimeGlobal – The Association of Advisory and Accounting Firms

Trevor Greenway | CEO of interVal, streamlining firms, finance and wealth with AI

Val Steed | CPA, MA, CITP, accounting, technologist, thought-leader, over 35 year veteran

Vipul Sheth | AdvanceTrack MD, ethically helping firms help clients with global teams

Tune into more on this daily show for short, sharp episodes that keep you informed of what’s happening in the accounting world and the whole ecosystem of consultants, organizations, vendors and advisors who serve them.

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Transcript
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The future of accountant, isn't just about numbers and financial statements. It's about empowering businesses to make informed decisions, navigate complex challenges, achieve their financial goals. And everyone recognized that Kansans are at the heart of this and must become trusted partners with business acumen expertise in data analytics, storytelling, strategic guidance, taking the clients towards success and whatever your role is in this ecosystem, you need to stay ahead of the curve to stay relevant. And that's why this accounting answers podcast was conceived to keep you informed and competitive. I'm your host, Rob brown, and I've interviewed 111 accounting experts, leaders, advisors, vendors, and influencers in the last few months and collected for you the very best and latest thinking on what works and what is coming up. And this week, they show 10 to 15 minutes gets you the low down on what matters today in the rapidly evolving accounting landscape. And the professional is shed in its traditional image of number crunching, embracing a bold new future data technology, strategic guidance, reign Supreme. I've asked the same five questions throughout covering the next generation of accountants. The proactive advice they need to be given the drivers have changed the role of tech and software vendors post the best predictions for the next few years, let's get started and hear what our experts have to say. Today was listed in the views of our experts, in what the tech software vendors could do to better serve accountants. What should tech companies do to develop innovative solutions that can help accountants enhance productivity? I provide better service to clients and stay ahead of the curve. It's an emotive question with lots of different angles. See if you can spot some clear messages and crucial themes coming out from our accounting influences. We have with this now, Trevor Greenway, CEO of interval, where he focuses on streamlined in firms, finance and wealth with AI leading the way. And applying artificial intelligence to the accounting industry for transformative results.

Trevor Greenway:

Talk to them and don't be fearful of the answer. You know, I just, at the end of the day, people buy products for, it's pretty simple. You know, people buy products because it either makes them more money, it solves a known pain or it's incredibly convenient or in a perfect world, it does all three. So I think that it's really important that you don't just develop something that you think, Solves a problem. You know, solves a problem because your customers have told you that it is a problem. And so those conversations are critical and then iterate and get feedback because you have to understand tech is probably scary to some firms, you know, they know it's a part of their future and they know that some have made great investments in it. And there are some real leaders in market, but you have to understand that that's not everybody. And so I think your empathy towards their plate and the situation that they find themselves in today, that's a tech vendors job is to help them navigate We are not here to kill you. We are actually here to can, you know, play an active role in the evolution of the industry that is gonna be better for everyone long term. And you can only do that by having real open and honest conversations, even if you're afraid of the answer. I'd say the main problem with some tech providers and software vendors, specifically in accounting. There are other places where this works well, but I think specifically in accounting. One, you have to be credible and have domain expertise. You have to, they have to believe that you understand their domain deeply. And two, It's not, you're not a commodity. This is still relatively the tech evolution inside of accounting is still relatively young relative to other industries that we've seen. It's, you know, there's been a ton that's been happening, but it's now like Moore's law is real. The exponential growth is actually happening. And so I think. Where I think a lot of companies fail is they assume, well, if I put in a ton of, you know, business development reps and account executives, and I give them their quotas and they cold call, you know, it's going to be wildly successful because the accountants will fall in line. And I think the point is that that doesn't work well. And it actually creates a It widens the gap between the vendors and the accountants because they're saying, we're curious about technology and there are things that we want to implement, but you haven't shown me any real knowledge of how my day to day actually works and you've just treated me like a number and it's a volume game and they're, you know, they're typically dealing in billable time. Right. And so it's not a great combination of factors where you want a bunch of their time. You don't really care. You're just throwing numbers and volume at this, at this sales process. And they're sitting there saying, unless I can really quickly understand the solution and understand that it actually solves the problem for me. I'm not ready for this. So don't commodity sell me, understand my business deeply and tell me how you're going to solve for the pain that I also acknowledge that I have. And I do truly believe that the vendors that continue to behave that way don't really listen to the customer, don't acknowledge that they're behaving differently. I do believe that the extinction is real and that's, that's actually compounded by the fact that, you know, a lot of those sales engines that are built that way are very expensive to run. Well, we just came through a little bit of a tech recession where the market kind of reset and probably healthily. And so the companies that were built that way. We're head, you know, headcount heavy. We're looking to meet quotas and we're trying to drive, you know, that kind of a sales process that's incredibly expensive, so they'll have to stop. Uh, and it, I don't believe it to be very successful.

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It's an honor to bring to the microphone to Val Steed. A true accounting, legends CPA, M a C I T P and accounting technology thought leader. Another 35 year veteran, who's been at the forefront of technology adoption and education in the accounting field.

Val Steed:

accountants Inventory is their time and so anything we can do to actually help them Be more efficient or understand our solutions. We we are guilty of this at zoho. We are very guilty of this of not having Really good training Certification, demo data sets, examples, case studies, all of these things, if you want to talk about product related solutions, the help accountants that are considering a solution, grasp it quicker, learn it quicker, get certified quicker, you know, all that's very, very important. Also, different, whole different I really think accounting tech has got to start doing what they did years ago and reach back into the profession to help the profession at large with programs such as programs helping encouraging young people to consider accounting as a profession to encourage and support the local chapters, CPA organizations, accounts organizations, whatever, and support those organizations through the profession, as well as just sell product.

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Hey, well, this now he's fitful chef managing director at advanced track outsourcing, helping accounting firms build global teams offering outsource services that enhance capacity and client service without compromising on quality or ethics.

Vipul Sheth:

I think a lesson for all of us, and it doesn't matter whether you're dealing with family or you're dealing with customers. If you talk to the people, and I refer to that very generally, so customers. In this instance, that is what we're talking about. If you talk to your customers And identify what's their greatest pain. or what is it that their product aims to solve, but actually doesn't. And if you do that, what you do is you get a much better product. One that's actually the customers have invested their time in. And if they've invested time and they see the results of their time in a better product, I think you've got a stickier customer. You have ambassador for that product. They'll be happy to tell other professionals that actually this product or this service is great. You should go and use it. And I think the more that we all do that, will lead to greater success for everyone. And one feeds the other. Yeah. If we have successful clients. Yeah, we inevitably grow and we're, we're very proud of the fact that, our growth is predominantly driven by our existing customers. And it is driven by that customer service ethos. And that's the one thing that every software or accounting, service provider should, should aim to do.

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The next voice you hear will be Stephen chief executive officer of prime global, the association of advisory and accounting firms.

Stephen Heathcote:

This is a great question, because, you know, I could say all the things about things like integration and security, but I would say the absolute best thing they could possibly do to serve us is to listen to us and, you know, not just talk about their kit, but actually talk to the people wearing the kit. So that, that means really understanding what, what makes professional practices tick, what, when, when firms talk about utilization, realization, their margins, their people, for their packages and their software. How will it make a difference? How will it improve profitability? How will it make their firm future proof. And that really means understanding the pains and the gains of each firm and having conversations. So I, I find often it's, um, sometimes it's startup vendors and entrepreneurs, but because they listen and they won't say, Oh, okay, we'll respond. And it may be in the sixth or seventh release down the line. We have developers there now that will help and support you.

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The next voice is Dwayne .A renowned tech leader, author, and recognized for his practical cutting edge process improvement in the accounting field. Leading firms towards innovation.

Dwayne Bragonier:

make cloud products work and allow for easy integration of other data sets with it. So, to speak first, make products work. Legacy versions had a framework that worked for the end user. It met their needs. When they re write into their cloud based products, quite often they abandon the fundamental framework and create a new user interface, which isn't always necessarily better. And in fact, many of them now are starting to dummy down their application feature sets because they're trying to make it easy for the average person to use and sure templating for us so that we can see things really quickly is wonderful. But please continue to allow customization so that the experienced user can do enhanced reporting. And with regards to the integration, please provide user friendly AIPs so that you don't have to be a programming expert in order to allow for Dataflow to go into our ERP systems.

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So they have five grand answer to the question. What could the tech and software vendors do better to serve accountants each work in depth that week, Monday through Friday, we give you the insights of five top influencers in the accounting world. On this critical area of the tech providers, software vendors and how they serve accountants. That's 25 valuable perspectives, viewpoints and best thinking every week. And with each fresh week comes a fresh question and more thoughts from the best accounting leaders and influences we can find. Thanks for listening to this brand new accounting answers podcast. And sharing the show with your friends. If you want to join the conversation, you can plug into our community of implementers@accountinginfluencers.com and check out our virtual speed networking events. These happen every few months for the north American region and the UK Europe region. The great opportunities to raise your profile, build valuable connections and share your thoughts with influential peers until next time, this is your host. Rob brown, saying stay informed, stay relevant and stay connected.