In recent years, accounting platforms have become very well developed and more accepted by the accounting industry (Getty Images/Adene Sanchez)
Whether it’s speeding up tedious bookkeeping or helping customers automate the tracking of their accounts receivable, there are a growing number of fintech solutions available to streamline customer bookkeeping (and yours), preparation of tax filings and other business practices.
“Over the past six years, accounting platforms have become very well developed and more accepted by the accounting industry and their clients,” says Obed Maurice, CPA, Partner, Avail CPA, a virtual accounting firm in Lethbridge, Alberta. “Recognition of the benefits has led to a much larger application ecosystem. The integration between everything is getting better and better.
Here’s a look at some of the most popular accounting apps on the market, along with some considerations to keep in mind when making your choices.
THE NEW TOOLS OF TRADE
Bookkeeping was one of the first practice areas to be automated, says Marc André Paquette, CPA, Senior Director, Corporate Oversight and Governance at CPA Canada. “The value proposition has completely changed businesses,” he says.
When identifying tools for his practice, Chad Davis, co-founder of LiveCA LLP and co-host of the Automation City podcast says, “It’s important to understand what alternatives exist so you can more effectively decide how they impact you.”
Here are some useful apps that experts say are helping to transform accounting functions:
- Guardian for QuickBooks Online helps accountants organize their accounting process with checklists, client portals, and KPI reports. The app allows accountants to add things like management reports and time tracking.
- Brand.com (formerly Integromat) allows accountants to move data between applications in a completely personalized way. It extracts important financial information from software as a service (SaaS) applications such as Google Sheets, Xero/QBO and Gmail, allowing accountants to move data in a way that was previously only available to custom applications and native integrations. “You might not be a developer, but Make lets you do it with easy-to-navigate drag-and-drop workflow builders,” says Davis.
- Plooto integrates with QuickBooks Online and Xero to manage day-to-day payments with a high degree of control and transparency. “Combining this with Helm allows us to easily project and manage a client’s cash flow,” says Maurice.
- Rewind allows accountants to backup, copy and restore their SaaS and cloud data for QuickBooks Online. “If someone creates a lot of trades or makes a lot of mistakes, Rewind allows you to come back at a specific time,” says Davis.
- Zapier offers similar functions to Make.com, says Davis. “However, this is a more popular option that can get people up and running very quickly through automation. It’s a great place to start.
- For e-commerce accounting, A2X for Xero and QuickBooks Online is designed for omnichannel selling on Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Walmart, or Etsy. It centralizes data, allowing accountants to track payments and credits and other important accounting elements of transactions and push the data to their accounting system. “While there are other players in the market, A2X is quite far ahead of most of them,” Davis says.
- Loopa cross-border banking platform, allows customers to transact and pay their statements in up to five currencies, eliminating exchange fees on statement payments.
- CliQue Advisor, developed by Avail CPA, helps analyze and monitor customer performance in one place. “It can filter customer performance by key metrics and target those who are doing well or need help,” says Maurice.
- Float is another player in the payments space in Canada. It offers a prepaid card solution that integrates with QuickBooks and Xero. Because it’s not credit-based, you can put as much as you want on the account. It’s a great accounting tool because it avoids the expense of personal credit cards and allows a business to create virtual cards on demand,” says Davis.
- Clio: This tool, which can be integrated with QuickBooks Online, is useful for accountants working with law firms.
When considering apps, don’t just rely on the recommendations of others, Davis cautions. “You really need to understand how this app will affect you, your team, and your procedures, including as many pros and cons as possible. There’s nothing like trying out the tool before committing. , so you find those decisive elements as quickly as possible.”
“You have to decide what you want as a client experience and accounting firm experience and go back,” Maurice explains. “There’s a solution for almost everything in the accounting space, so it’s all about getting everything in place in a way that works for you and your clients.”
Key questions to ask include:
- What is your value proposition/How do you define end user experience?
- What level of support do you need?
- Do you have an evaluation process in place?
- Are the applications specific to the customer industries we serve?
- Are grants available? (Maurice recommends that CPAs review the Government of Canada’s new strategy Digital Adoption Program for small and medium-sized businesses.)
ATTENTION TO EDUCATION AND SAFETY
Paquette also stresses the importance of education with fintech. “You need to consider learning and training all types of people, from entry-level accountants to associates. They will need to know where the information they are looking at comes from and that it is a tool they can trust.
The other thing to consider is security, he adds. “With fintech, all processes are in the cloud. This requires a greater consideration of cybersecurity with respect to the flow of information. Think about this when talking to your supplier. A good one will have these answers or connect you with someone who has them.
BEST BUSINESS PRACTICES
Be sure to keep up to date with new quality management standards that will affect all practitioners. And learn the top five questions CPAs ask about the cloud.