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Your Virtual Accountant

Today was like many others, but perhaps a world away from just a decade ago for an accountant and client working together.

We wrestled through bank reconciliations, talked through accountancy adjustments, mulled over cost-drivers and shared insights around areas for growth.

We were face to face and looked at the same screen with the same figures. Perhaps nothing particularly strange so far.

Yet we were 100s of miles apart.

We worked together all day. Like we were in the same office (but we were far from it). This was made possible by Google Hangouts, online banking and cloud accounting software (Quickbooks today).

Don’t be restricted by geographical boundaries when seeking financial and tax advice for you and your business. Get the best accountant and tax advisor you can – no matter where they might be….

 

Meeting up with Virtual Clients

I am looking forward to finally meeting up with a long-standing client of mine this evening – a virtual client.  Although we have worked together for almost 4 years, we have never met in the flesh as he is based in Los Angeles, US. 

Yet technology has allowed us to work closely over the years despite the significant distance between the UK and US and its getting easier and easier. We rely heavily on email and telephone on a day-to-day basis but screensharing, shared online workspaces and Google Wave-type continual contact are on the horizon. He works largely from home and I try to work from home on regular occasions yet this doesn’t impede our flow of communication due to improving broadband speeds.

Virtual / Global / Cloud consulting – whatever you wish to call it – is becoming an exciting reality.

But how powerful and long-lasting can virtual relationships be? Lisa Tse discussed the importance of bridging the gap to turn virtual communities into real-life flesh and blood communities – via TweetUps for her Twitter followers and friends in her case. This has been immensely powerful for her business in building sustainable and long lasting relationships. Geography can be a significant stumbling block but meeting for real can really cement a relationship – I hope the same will be true of tonight’s real-life meeting! 

The only issue is how I will find him at the restaurant in Manchester this evening – having never previously met in the flesh, it’s slightly concerning that we won’t initially recognise each other! Until we speak and I hear his (familiar telephone) voice.

Professionals serving clients via The Cloud

As a practising chartered accountant and tax advisor, I am finding that the ability to reach out and service clients via The Cloud is getting easier (and even more fun). 

Two recent examples from the past week:

  1. Sat at my Mac when I was pinged via Skype by one of my contacts “Steve, do you have a moment to help?”.  Within seconds he had sent me a link via Yuuguu for me to view his screen.  He was busy trying to file his company CT600 tax return online but was encountering some problems.  There is a further option on the screen that allowed me to take control of his screen so that I could quickly rifle through the online pages to determine if anything was wrong.  Meanwhile we could discuss via online chat.  A v slick experience and a glimpse into the way we will work in the future (now)!
  2. Leaving the gym, a client wanted me to check some recent accounting entries to his online business books.  With no time to get back to the office, I stopped by a local Pret-A-Manger and sat down with my laptop to hook up to the free wifi.  I tried to connect to Skype via my ipod Touch (as Skype is not installed on my work laptop) but unfortunately the connection was patchy.  A quick log-in to Twitter to apologise for the delay and my client sent an access link to his online accounting package, Xero, via a direct message in Twitter.  Within seconds I was logged into his Xero account reviewing the accounting entries.  The review was limited as I wanted to discuss some points with him (and a public place like Pret is not ideal), however, to get a heads up on the fly, this was great. 

Who would have thought this way of working would be possible only a couple of years ago? 

Example 1 could not have happened as I was not in the office at the time.  Example 2 would have meant a significant delay and frustration for my client awaiting my return to the office etc.   In both cases, these tools enabled me to be more responsive and allowed me to work without being chained to my desk. 

Professionals need to be out of the office supporting the business community and these tech tools are allowing this to become a reality. 

On a personal note, many of my clients are technology companies and they (quite rightly) expect their advisers to operate and work utilising similar tools – great news for me!

What might this mean for the way professionals work in the (near) future?