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CPAs Augment Staff with Automation

CPA Magazine had an opportunity to sit down with CeCe Morken, executive vice president and general manager of the Intuit ProConnect Group. She described to us the many challenges CPAs face during tax season and throughout the year. One such challenge is the limitation of time. She revealed many CPAs she knows are choosing to solve this problem through automation.

“First of all we hear about time which is, ‘I need more time to spend with my clients,’” said Morken. “Second of all, we hear about ‘growing my practice.’ Those who are successful typically grow their practice by word of mouth which is by far the best type of marketing you could have. But never the less, firms starting out say ‘I would like to be able to find more clients that I can serve.’ The third one that we hear is when it gets really busy.

“When it gets really busy during tax season they need to augment their staff and it’s difficult for them to figure out, ‘how can I find people that I can trust to work with me to serve my clients when I need them,’" said Morken. "I think that’s one of the reasons that you see two things: an increase in people automating things like accounting and tax so that there is more time, the second one is matchmaking platforms that are starting to pop up even in accounting to connect clients who need an accountant or tax preparer with professionals.

“In fact, we’ve done that with Intuit where we match all of our small businesses, we have over 5 million of them, to accountants looking to grow their practice. We can even match them to peers who might have an area of expertise that can help them during the season."

We then asked Morken what she saw for the practical future of accounting?

“Well, I think the practical future is going to change faster than we think,” said Morken. “I think it’s driven by the acceleration of robotics. Robotics can address anything that is rules-based. If you think about accounting functions and tax functions, all of those can be automated robotically. Now, the silver lining that I see to all of that is it will free up an accountant’s time to be more of a trusted advisor to there clients.

“In the future I see us moving into a much more connected world. By connected I mean having access to your trusted advisor wherever you are. When we say wherever you are, mobile isn't about a device, mobile is wherever you have gone. It may be in your car, it may be on your mobile device, it may be from your television or your mirror. Wherever you are, you can connect to your trusted advisor.

“The second piece of connections is we see people coming together in service to the client. Visualize with me, if you will, I’m the CPA trusted advisor to my small business but I know that my small business needs access to capital. I want to bring into this virtual conversation the banker who can help me get capital into my small businesses account or I'm going to help them secure procurement services at a better rate than they can get on their own. I may want to bring someone in to help us with that so it’s a whole connected world. All of this is in service to the CPA being that trusted advisor, but a different type of trusted advisor than they are today.”

Morken went on to describe the power of data and how it can be used by today’s CPAs.

“The final piece that I would add to that is the power of data,” said Morken. “We all see this and know what happens with data today. If we just look at the mega platforms of Google or Facebook and we all see how relevant everything is that comes our way through those channels, they are literally looking at who you get likes from, what ads you look at, what your conversations are like. They are customizing and personalizing that experience directly to you. That same data can help a CPA truly be this really intelligent, guided, trusted advisor for clients where the data comes to them in an automated fashion and we can free up their time so that they can consult small businesses. I focus a lot on small businesses because they are the mainstream of jobs and the economy. The more we can help them survive and be successful, the better it is for everyone.