Is there anything better than that giant sigh of relief after you’ve officially closed the books for your clients, can bid bon voyage to the previous fiscal year, and maybe most importantly, get some rest?
Actually, there is — not having a frantic, pressure-packed year-end close in the first place. You don’t have to spend weeks eating every meal at your desk, treating caffeine as a lifeline, and shutting yourself off from any kind of personal life.
What separates a good year-end close from a bad one?
Two words: document management. The right structure, templates, and integrations make it fast and easy to find client records, real-time document updates, and critical email conversations. It’s also simple to archive old clients so that your ever-growing mountain of client data is even easier to navigate. Contrast that with accounting firms that still rely on paper folders, random scribbled notes, and physically meeting with clients to sign forms. Which firm do you think will be scrambling at the end of the fiscal year?
Accounting firms with a solid document management strategy don’t have the same year-end pressure. In fact, many of them are able to get everything buttoned up a couple of weeks in advance. Imagine the sigh of relief you could take then!
Could your year-end close be more efficient?
Even if you’ve migrated from paper-based to cloud-based document management, you still may be experiencing unnecessary year-end stress. In our Financial File Frustration Fix ebook, we noted that less than 1% of accounting firms are using their tech stack to its full potential. That’s why it’s critical to evaluate your systems and processes each year.
The best time for a gut check? As early as possible in the new financial year. Typically, that’s at the end of Q1 because the first quarter is chock full of time-sensitive obligations. Once you’ve gotten those taken care of, take a look at your firm’s operations and ask yourself the following questions:
- How did you and your team feel during the last year-end close? If the stress was off the charts, why?
- How did you collaborate with your clients? Did you have to do anything in person?
- Does your junior review process feel seamless? How much time do you spend searching for their documents and source data?
- Do you have a cloud-based document management system that can be accessed from anywhere?
- How are you using it? Are you taking full advantage of features like form templates, auto-creation of folders, client portals, and e-signatures?
- Are there any new features coming from your software provider? What are they? How can they be incorporated into your existing processes?
- Are there any pain points your document management system isn’t addressing? Is your provider open to feedback about new features?
- Are you saving noticeable time? Many accounting firms save several hours each week, per employee, just from the right document management system. Are you one of them?
The right year-end close is your firm’s differentiator
Having a smooth, efficient year-end close doesn’t just benefit your team. Your clients also see big benefits too. A document management system eliminates the need for them to physically come to your office to drop off records or sign forms. It also removes the back-and-forth between your firm and your clients — like asking the same questions several times, having multiple employees asking for the same documents, or accidentally relying on an outdated document and scrambling to fix it. It doesn’t take long for clients to see the difference between your frictionless year-end close and experiences they’ve had with other firms. And they’ll be grateful for it.
Your year-end close can create year-round business impact
Not only does a seamless year-end close separate you from the pack, but it also frees up time so you can take on more clients. And because everything is digital, those clients can be anywhere, giving you the power to expand your geographical footprint further than you ever thought possible.
It’s also a great way to retain more employees — something that’s especially critical in the midst of a global accountant shortage. If your team doesn’t have to dread closing the books, they’ll be happier and less likely to burn out.
The tools you need are out there. Use them to create a year-end close that works for your team, your business, and your clients. That kind of win-win-win is the real sigh of relief.
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