Making Tax Digital has been the biggest change in accountancy in a generation and represents significant changes to the way that accountants and clients work, by moving all record keeping and tax filing online.
Much of accountants’ work since the announcement of MTD was to educate their teams about the scope and ramifications of MTD and explore the practicalities of digital record keeping. With a generation of baby boomers representing a sizeable chunk of the average accountants’ client portfolio, they have had to educate their clients about MTD and the various accounting software packages and apps available. No mean feat, as some clients are resistant to change and still using manual records. A feat that by all accounts is still very much work in progress as according to recent reports, only 25% of companies surveyed said that their current processes meet HMRC’s new requirements.
So how does this relate to marketing?
Technology goes hand in hand with marketing, with savvy companies adopting new technology and quickly turning it to their commercial advantage but when the technology is thrust upon a whole market sector including your competitors how do you make sure you get the best commercial leverage from it.
Increased market intelligence
Accountants providing tax planning and proactive business advice have always had to really get to know their clients’ businesses in order to provide proactive business advice. MTD has provided the opportunity to do this with all clients by looking at a client’s set up on an individual basis, in order to create efficiencies and streamline processes. As a result, practices have become more agile and proactive in their approach, providing real value to their clients. This can only lead to stronger client relationships and higher retention levels.
Added value services
MTD is intended to streamline the whole process and there will be those firms that will concentrate on the implementation of the new software and processes and leave it there. Obviously, there will be a bedding in period and a lot of up-front work as clients are set-up but going forward the new easy reporting should result in the freeing-up of resources. The pro-active accountants will re-deploy these resources. Energy could be reinvested in promotional activities and marketing to help generate new business or you could create added value services. Any issues or opportunities that arise in your clients’ accounts, in theory, should be easier to spot and earlier. More frequent financial health checks could be offered as part of the management fee.
On a simplistic level, you can piggyback the whole MTD HMRC awareness campaign. Keep writing blog posts about MTD, make sure that your social media has the right hashtags, offer to write guest posts for related 3rd parties. New content on subjects that are trending will make the search engines take notice. Yes, there will be a lot of competition but if you do get some extra visitors to your website they will probably spend some time looking at all the other wonderful services you provide and at the least, they will see you are a credible and forward-thinking firm. New content will also keep the search engines coming back and indexing your content help your rankings.
In addition, those accountancy practices that have embraced the change, educated clients about it, written articles about it, organised events about it, are positioning themselves as thought leaders in the industry.
For forward-thinking accountancy firms, HMRC’s drive to become the most digital tax administration in the world should be the driving force to advise clients on digital tax technology and automation. This could lead to a competitive advantage.