Accountants are faced with growing pressure to remain relevant or risk becoming "obsolete" in the face of the increasing proliferation of cloud-based and self-service accounting tools, according to accounting firm RSM.
Under the Financial Services Reform Act 2001, accountants are currently able to provide advice around self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs), pensions, rollovers and consolidation involving SMSFs, in addition to advice on life insurance cover, simple managed investment schemes, and basic deposit products under the accountants' exemption.
However, RSM director, Andrew Sykes, argued that accountants needed to embrace "cloud accounting" and become "strategic advisers" who can help provide greater guidance to clients seeking real-time insights and information.
"Time saved on repetitive tasks, greater security, convenience, and flexibility offered by cloud-based tools means that the accounting virtually does itself," Sykes said.
"This means that the traditional role of accountant has shifted. Accountants who don't make this shift will find themselves struggling to meet clients' needs."
According to Sykes, the advent of cloud accounting has been driven by changing customer demands, with the new self-service tools making it easier for accountants to keep track of income, find new ways to minimise their clients' tax burdens, as well has have more time to advise clients on what will help their business grow.
"Clients expectations are changing. They no longer want you to provide a picture of their financial position — they want you to analyse it and provide advice on what to do to improve it," Sykes said.
"By becoming a genuinely trusted adviser, accountants can build longer-term partnerships with clients … as clients come to rely on them more and more."