I had a chat last week with a gent from a small company that had created some new and quite exciting accounting software.
What was interesting was that the gent was pretty much running the whole show by himself. He’d identified a niche market, which in this case was freelancers, and he had developed accounting software to support freelancers. And the software was making use of Big Data analysis to determine client’s future requirements.
Certainly there is plenty of research to suggest the freelance gig is going to increase at a rate of knots in the future. And there are certain niche markets that Australian accountants should be looking at.
In our opinion, it’s not about geographic locations for clients anymore, it’s coming more to specialization and looking at new trends. I expect to see in the near future accountants becoming experts in the gig economies, and it would be pretty easy to pick several areas where accountants could excel when they specialise: Accountants specializing in support for taxpayers with Airbnb rentals, taxpayers working as Uber drivers, freelancers. Certainly with each new variation of the shared/gig economy, there is a new opportunity for an Australian accountant!
But getting back to the phone call with the gent who had developed his accounting software for freelancers, he’d taken this to quite some level. He had 6 programmers operating from an offshore destination, who were doing all the low cost labour programming.
The system had been developed to take “new freelancers” through the process of setting up an entity, getting the ABN, registering for GST, setting up their bank account in the new entity name (automated!), and… this is where it starts to get interesting… had been using big data analysis to determine the credit rating of the client and ability to arrange an overdraft – for which the software made recommendations. Big data was being used to identify and guide the client through the life cycle of the entity.
Everything else that you’d expect had been built into the software. Expenses, revenue etc were read using OCR, and the system was pretty much fully automated. There was still the need for some phone/email technical support, but everything was setup to be processed automatically, and the need for an accountant and/or a tax preparer, had been removed from this system.
It’s always interesting to see that new ideas and new companies can come to fruition very quickly. I’m sure there is some research somewhere which shows that the big accounting software companies dominate the market at the moment, but there seems to be plenty of scope for Australian software players and Australian accountants in the areas of specialization. Especially as you’d expect smaller firms are more agile.
The phone call was quite an eye opener. I’d have to ask how many Australian accountants have any kind of big data analysis going on for their client base. Certainly this is something that hasn’t been a mainstream discussion, especially when compliance continues to consume so much of an Australian accountant’s time.