Why Automate the Delivery of Monthly Financial Statements?
Cloud computing has been one of the biggest technology developments over the past ten years. It has influenced a decrease in accounting application costs through software as a service (SaaS) solutions like QuickBooks Online (QBO), Bill.com, Expensify, and Gusto that many of your clients leverage today. And it has introduced and made readily available artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies that allow for automation beyond what is available in these popular SaaS solutions. And while new applications and technologies offer plenty of opportunities, they also represent risk. Research by Frey and Osborne indicates that 47% of job categories are open to automation within 15 years and accounts and auditors are second highest in terms of risk, just after telemarketers. According to Frey and Osborne, there is a 98% chance that accountants will have their jobs automated. The Big Four have already adjusted their hiring to focus on digitally skilled graduates to help develop AI tools to replace much of the work of less experienced staff. One firm has determined that aggressively identifying opportunities for automation and then addressing them is the best defense against Google or Amazon deciding to leverage technology to replace the need for large portions of the Big Four portfolio of offers.
Automation won’t kill the CPA, but not embracing automation might. Interpretation and judgment aren’t going away and the most valuable aspects of accounting are those related to strategic and consultative actions dependent on human interpretation and judgment. Bookkeeping services are manually intensive with managing the connections and the inherent security risks of collecting data from banks and credit card companies. With managing the coding of transactions as they come in every month for clients. With performing the reconciliations of the monthly financial statements for clients. And with managing the consistency and accuracy of client Chart of Accounts.
We’ve Lived the Same Challenges You Face
At Ceterus, we have been doing bookkeeping services for over 12 years for thousands of clients, so we understand the challenges and have been through the journey. One of the things we learned as we grew our business was that scaling the number of clients for whom we provide bookkeeping was hard. Good accounting resources are hard to find and we found it difficult to add resources that met our high standards, not to mention maintaining standard practices across all of our accountants and clients. We implemented standard processes and procedures, but maintaining those standards across hundreds of clients and dozens of accountants was a tall task. Gross margins declined, staff morale suffered, and client satisfaction dropped. This combination produced challenges that ultimately began to negate the impact of growth. We turned to automated processes in order to maintain our quality standards and reduce the pressure on our team while also enabling the profitable growth in our business.
But we also discovered that we had to automate the repetitive tasks in order to address accountant burnout. Our accountants grew weary of the brute force manual activities of bookkeeping, which only exacerbated our challenges with recruiting good staff as we experienced turnover within the team. Our accountants became accountants because they love accounting and helping clients. They were, and are, passionate about the numbers as well as how the numbers can help inform their clients’ actions.
To Continue the Status Quo Would Have Been Insanity
We knew we were at a significant point of inflection without changing something. The change we chose was automation and, in retrospect, we really didn’t have a choice. The good news is that automation helped us address many of our challenges. Because we were able to automate nearly all of the monthly collection and coding of transactions, we were able to gain significant leverage from our team. Before automation, a single accounting professional could manage a maximum of 20 locations by doing everything in the process. Automation and the division of labor we were able to achieve due to the automation means our accountants can now handle over 400 locations each and focus almost exclusively on consulting with their clients. They have been able to do this while also increasing the consistency and quality of our work.
There is a Happy Ending
We were able to change our business because we were able to do things differently and focus on different things in the process. We started doing things in a new way, where automation allowed the routine to flow through quickly and accurately, allowing our staff to focus on exceptions. Instead of reacting to changes in bank and credit card credentials when we discovered that the related information wasn’t there as we started the close process, our team focused on addressing the changes to credentials as soon as it was identified in the automated process. Instead of manually coding transactions on a monthly basis for each client, we automated the process across our clients and addressed exceptions, like new transaction types, as they were identified. And then we leveraged the new transaction types and related coding across all of our clients so we only had to add the new code once. We automated the reconciliation process across all of our clients so that our team only needed to focus on exceptions and interact with clients to address those exceptions rather than reconciling each client on a serial basis.
Leverage Our Journey
Ceterus has commercialized the automation platform we built to scale our own business of delivering monthly financial statements. Leveraging cloud computing and artificial intelligence, the Ceterus CPA Platform automates the ongoing management of data collection connections, automates the coding of transactions across all clients, automatically reconciles client accounts every month, and automates the ongoing management of the consistency and accuracy of your clients’ Charts of Accounts. Ceterus automates and manages the heavy lifting involved in delivering monthly financial statements so that your team can focus on exceptions, discuss the exceptions with your clients, and spend more time focused on analyzing monthly results and advising clients on their businesses. The Ceterus CPA Platform is the automated, 7X24 bookkeeper who never goes on vacation, never minds staying late, and who never makes a mistake. Join our journey and leverage our experiences in automating the delivery of monthly financial statements to thousands of small businesses by setting up your personalized demonstration of our solution today!