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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.

The virtual FD: the future of your accounting firm

Joris Van Der Gucht
Written by: Joris Van Der Gucht

Modern business owners want more than just the accounting basics from their accountant. In the digital world, where businesses can manage much of the financial workload themselves, the tech-savvy business owner wants more value from their adviser – and this is where enhanced advisory services and a 'virtual FD' offering fulfil that need.

A virtual FD service provides a part-time financial director (FD) for your business clients. This gives clients an experienced finance professional to sit on their board, provide long-term strategic guidance and bring the company the high-level support they need as a business.

 So how can a virtual FD offering fit in your firm’s wider package of advisory services?

1. The impact of technology

Cloud technology is changing the way that accountants work and is transforming the processes, systems and workflows that are needed to complete client work. Cloud accounting software, integrated fin-tech apps and online workflow platforms have made the process of completing clients’ basic accounts and tax returns incredibly simple and efficient.

Some key benefits of online technology include:

  • Reduced data entry time – optical character recognition (OCR) software quickly scans and converts client receipts and purchase invoices, removing that keying-in time.

  • Automation of key tasks – automation and machine learning can automate areas such as bank reconciliation, coding of expenses and chasing of aged debts.

  • Smart AI analysis of financial data – artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can quickly process huge amounts of financial data, flagging up the key issues, concerns and opportunities in your clients’ management reporting.

Your team can be more time-efficient and productive when you apply technology in the most effective ways, freeing up basic compliance time and allowing you to focus on higher value services for your clients.

2. Expanding your advisory services

A focus on advisory services is easier with the benefits of technology – and that allows the firm to review the value-add services that are offered by the practice.

With more time available, you can broaden your services and start helping clients at a much higher level when it comes to their financial management.

This breaks down into two key advisory areas:

  1. Business and financial performance – where the firm works with clients to improve their financial management, provides financial modelling and forecasting advice and helps the client to increase its overall performance as a business.

  2. Strategic advice and growth – where you advise the client’s board and management team around long-term strategy, access to funding, growth planning and key decision-making regarding the future path of the business.

Going beyond the basics of pure compliance helps to redefine your purpose as a professional services firm – helping you to refine, enhance and update the vision behind the practice.

 3. The virtual FD – guiding your clients' future direction

Having access to a finance director adds real value for business owners – especially once start-ups and small businesses have reached a certain maturity in their growth journey.

What many startups, scale-ups and established businesses really want is an expert on board to guide their future direction as a business. This is where the virtual FD role comes in – providing a part-time financial director role who becomes part of their management board.

 As a firm, being able to offer this virtual FD service is a critical element in expanding your advisory services, and in building deeper relationships with your clients.

4. A better view of key business information

To effectively take on the FD role, your team need access to the most insightful information and financial data – giving you the empirical evidence on which to base your analysis, your detailed reporting and your proactive advice on performance and strategy.

Smart cloud accounting software solutions, like Silverfin, provide you with these vital analytics tools and KPI-driven business performance/reporting tools, giving your virtual FDs a granular level of insight into clients' financial data.

Having access to this level of detail and actionable insight is what drives your ability to provide the virtual FD role – allowing you to see the challenges, opportunities and pitfalls in the road ahead and to take proactive action to help your client deal with them.

Business people using mobile phones and laptops, calculating and discussing charts and diagrams for financial report

5. A deeper kind of client relationship

As a virtual FD, you're no longer the kind of traditional accountant who meets their clients once or twice or year. And in today’s market, it’s important for your firm to have made that transition.

 When your team are providing a virtual FD service, they become an integral part of clients’ management team and a key driver in their business. That helps to improve understanding, increase good levels of communication and build a long-lasting valued relationship with clients.


Make Silverfin the digital foundation of your advisory service

Silverfin is a centralised data hub designed specifically for finance professionals. We help you work, communicate and interact with clients in the digital space, making your client relationships more productive and reducing the time taken to service each business.

Find out more about Silverfin at Silverfin.com