The key takeaways from this session
As some of the basics of accounting have become more automated, accountants have increasingly found themselves becoming valued advisors to their clients. And to do this now means accountants need a good grasp of data analytics - for two reasons. First, their clients will be sharing data with them and asking for help. And second, they need to be analysing their own data to understand their business better and better serve their clients.
But where to begin? The biggest problem with client data is that there’s nearly always too much of it. And the biggest problem for smaller firms? There’s often not enough data to start seeing the trends you need to drive you in the right direction. Whether your practice is bigger or smaller, it’s possible you’re suffering from analysis paralysis.
There are three broad areas of skill accountants need to derive maximum value from analytics:
Technical skills include things like understanding the business you’re working with (even if it’s your own), understanding data, knowing how to prepare it, model it, evaluate it and deploy the insights you take from it.
Application proficiency includes a lot more than just knowing how to use Excel. Nowadays, it means being able to move your own business into the Cloud, and pull your clients in there with you. It means understanding application programming interfaces and how you can orchestrate different tools to cover your clients’ needs in the round.
Critical thinking and problem solving are probably the hardest of the three areas of skill to learn - although accountants will be familiar with them in other contexts. It’s not enough just having the data and being able to present it nicely. You have to be able to work with it, gain insights from it, and apply those insights to your clients’ business to help them succeed.
There’s also key learning to be done about data security and data governance - something that can’t be skipped.
The first step is for your firm to walk the talk and implement a strong analytics program of its own. What you can do for yourself you can do for your clients with confidence. Here are some top tips to get you started:
Most importantly, don’t be afraid! Data analytics might sound scary, but really it’s just a way of getting to know a business better. Start small, speak to the experts, and do your research and you’ll get on top of analytics in no time.
Links to useful resources: