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Technology Trends in Accounting 2021 Research Report
Discover the progress accountancy firms have made in their business and client service transformation, and what impact the pandemic has had on their use of technology.

CSI Accountant: how data analytics is a core tool for the modern accountant

Joris Van Der Gucht
Written by: Joris Van Der Gucht

Reaching beyond the numbers to the why.

Desperate for insight

All businesses are drowning in data and accountants are no exception – and this situation is only accelerating. In its Data Age 2025 report, IDC forecasts the global datasphere will reach 175 zettabytes by 2025. That’s more than ten times the amount produced in 2017.

While many accountants recognise that this data holds the key to their future success and the development of their advisory services, many are at a loss when it comes to how to use it. Much of their data is held in disparate locations (even paper files), siloed within specific teams and is not easily available for insightful analysis. As they add more clients to their portfolio, all using different types of bookkeeping solutions, the problem is only made worse.

As a result, many firms are struggling to deliver more than standard compliance, auditing and financial reporting work. Keeping data just for that purpose alone, even deleting it and then moving on to the next task.

Data is key to achieving success in advisory services. So all of this disconnected data needs to be brought together so that it can be seen, analysed and compared. It also needs to be held in one place and available to everyone.

By using an accounting platform such as Silverfin, accountants are able to realise the benefits that come with data and data analytics in the design and delivery of their advisory services.

A woman looking over the shoulder of a colleague as she works

Understand what is happening with descriptive analytics

Descriptive analytics is fundamental to basic reporting – and underpins the traditional role of accountancy professionals. It is creating insight based on historical and live data to draw comparisons.

This is the very beginning of what Silverfin does. Real-time financial data can be collated from virtually any source and standardised in Silverfin’s secure data hub. This gives accountants one version of the truth, allowing them to clearly identify what has happened and drill down into detail as needed.

Understand why it happened through diagnostic analytics

This is the start of real analysis. Diagnostic analytics examines the cause of past results, providing information that accountants can use to begin to demonstrate added value.

Using Silverfin, accountants can compare performance over time, track changes, analyse why things have happened, and benchmark against similar companies to see if they have followed the same pattern. To learn from the performance of the crowd.

Three people in a meeting pouring over reports

Understand what will or could happen with predictive and prescriptive analytics

With predictive analysis, accountants can use their knowledge of why something happened to predict future outcomes, enabling them to forecast or model historical performance and deliver actionable insights for their clients.

Prescriptive analytics means they can also use data to model the likely outcome of a range of different strategies and advise their clients on the best option.

By analysing past data and future trends, accountants can ensure the right course of action is taken in good time – either to mitigate risk or exploit opportunities. 

Silverfin enables real-time monitoring with alerts to notify accountants when certain thresholds are met. So, as well as using the data to map out forecasts, plan for different scenarios, identify patterns, and define best practice, the accountant also knows when precisely to take action. Silverfin gives accountants the ability to predict, understand what will happen, and when action is needed.

Predictive and prescriptive analytics unlock the higher value offering that all progressive accounting firms want to achieve: advisory services. Silverfin provides visibility over what’s happened, why it happened, and the circumstances where it’s likely to happen again, enabling accountants to deliver valuable recommendations and benchmarking services to clients.

It’s only with these four types of analytics at their fingertips that accountants can make a full transition to being a trusted business advisor, working in partnership with the client to guide them to greater profitability and performance.

Two people working in a bright office, turn insight into advisory with Silverfin

From insight to impact

Pioneering accountants are quickly realising that they need to do more if they want to keep hold of their clients’ business for the long term. Number crunching and reporting are no longer enough – clients want meaningful advice based on real-time data that will help them build a better business.

It’s a move that will pay off for those that succeed – according to UK magazine Accountancy Age, those firms that focus on delivering advisory services can anticipate up to six times the growth of those that focus solely on compliance work. Our own research showed the importance of advisory services is clear to the profession, with 76% of our respondents believing the majority of their revenue will come from advisory in five years.

Silverfin makes a faster move to advisory easier. It enables accountants to uncover trends, benchmark clients and spot gaps in the market quicker than ever before. Analysis is no longer a chore or manual effort – with automated reporting and alerts it can be done in the click of a button and delivered to your clients in the form of easily digestible reports and charts. What’s more, thanks to Silverfin’s in-built communication features, all collaboration can be done without ever leaving the platform.

Ultimately, this means far less manual number crunching and time spent on compliance or reporting, and more time spent delivering the expert advice your clients want and need.

Download our free eGuide to learn more about how data analysis and benchmarking delivers critical Insight, the third step on the journey to success in connected accounting.