The cloud revolution has some small business accountants concerned. The advantages of using simple online tools like Xero and Kashflow instead of Excel sheets or convoluted desktop programs are evident, but what role will accountants play in a world where data feeds directly from bank accounts to management accounts, reconciliation is automatic and insightful reports are available in a few clicks?
The truth is that the shift to cloud accounting will be disruptive. However, disruption also opens up professional avenues and we believe that forward-thinking accountants are well-placed to take advantage of new cloud-enabled opportunities.
The most obvious of these is the opportunity for efficiency gains, but we believe that the real revolution comes when your clients can plug their accounts into an ecosystem of third-party providers to get more value out of their data. For instance, at iwoca we’re helping small businesses get fast, fair access to credit by using the data held in the cloud to make more informed decisions.
A business owner can sign up at iwoca.co.uk and authorise us to view their online accounting data in just a few minutes. This allows us to quickly verify their revenue, profitability and cash flow so we can offer them £1,000 - £100,000 of flexible credit for cash flow management, stock opportunities or investments.
Using accounting data rather than just a credit score means we can often approve businesses that struggle to get finance from their bank.
That’s a big market. The British Business Bank ran a survey that suggests that nearly 100,000 SMEs and approximately £4bn worth of applications for credit are rejected each year. Undoubtedly many of your clients fall within this bracket.
Linking in to cloud solutions also makes applying to iwoca much faster than a traditional finance provider. We can approve a business within hours, rather than in weeks or months. This means that business owners don’t miss out on short-term opportunities and can get on with actually running their operations rather than filling in forms.
So what’s the role of an accountant? Well, exactly the same as it’s always been: to act as a trusted advisor who helps small businesses manage their finances effectively. The only difference is that now accountants should be helping their clients use their data in the cloud to make this happen.
With that in mind, we’ve set up a team dedicated to partnering with accountants like you to help you understand how iwoca works. If you like our solution and think we can help your clients grow then we’d love for you to recommend us – we may even be able to offer your clients preferential terms – but otherwise it’s great just to get your feedback.
Richard Sutton Head of Accountant Partnerships at iwoca