One of my first “welcome to the real world” moments happened when I was a young tax intern at a small accounting firm. This tax season, an older gentleman came into the office to drop his tax papers in a shoebox, literally. A shoebox with receipts spilling out from under the lid that had apparently been repurposed and repurposed for document storage from a long time ago when cars still had cassette players.
Standing in the records room, staring at the mess of crumpled receipts, I wondered aloud, “Who’s going to organize this mess into some kind of usable data?” At that time, a company associate who was passing by turned around, smiled and said, “Why, you are!” I guess I walked right into that one. You better get to work, intern.
For generations, this is how tax work and the relationship with your accountant has gone: find the best option in your area code and drop off your proverbial shoebox.
However, we are in 2022 and we have the capacity to go much further than that. Modern business owners have access to a national array of accountants through the power of technology. they are no longer restricted by being within the same city or even state boundaries. Likewise, accountants can group together in new ways, specializing and focusing on specific industries and types of businesses in ways that were not possible before.
In this article, I will highlight three areas where technological developments are changing the way our firm interacts and does business with our dental clients. Technology is changing rapidly, so we are constantly evaluating new options, but I will focus on some of the specific applications we currently use to implement this technology.
A natural place to start our discussion is with the cloud. We use Citrix’s ShareFile system to securely store and share documents through the cloud. ShareFile also provides electronic signature services to documents, which has been a lifeline during the pandemic. Likewise, we use Intuit Link as a digital tax questionnaire and tax organizer to help clients sort and upload their documents each spring.
In general, clients want a smooth process for submitting their tax documents. They want to be able to take some of the pain out of tax season and file on time without having to extend their returns just for administrative delays. The use of cloud technology helps our firm organize the flow of information to deliver the optimal results to clients.
Zoom and weave
Another technology that everyone has become familiar with in recent years is Zoom. We’ve all had positive and negative experiences with virtual meetings, but Zoom has undeniably become a useful tool to help us meet clients remotely. However, a disadvantage of virtual meeting technology is that it requires synchronization between users, i.e. both users must be connected and available at the same time to use the service.
Loom is a company I experimented with recently that is trying to solve this problem. Loom provides video recording software designed for asynchronous communication. I can use it to record videos for clients, send them a YouTube-style link, and they can watch it at their leisure. Part of the beauty of Loom is that it streamlines the video creation process – there’s no editing software required, no rendering or compression decisions to make, and no confusing array of add-ons. of files (who really knows the pros and cons of .MKV over .AVI anyway?). You just click a button to save a video to your computer, then seconds after you finish it, your video is available in the cloud, ready to share with a link.
I admit I’ve only scratched the surface of this technology so far, but there are an array of add-ons – such as polls, responses, comments, stats, and more. – that can be implemented. The applications for our business are endless, from how-to videos on how to use payroll software or electronically fund your IRA, to educational videos such as 401(k) training for new hires or an on-demand video review. a tax return.
No-code app builders
Finally, another area of technology that has me excited about the possibilities is the growing list of no-code app makers. These are applications that allow people who have no knowledge of computer coding to create, automate and innovate new microapplications.
These platforms allow users to easily build applications to meet their custom business needs in a significantly reduced time frame compared to what was available just a few years ago. Although there are many platforms serving this space, our company has adopted QuickBase as its primary platform.
Over the past few years, we’ve created dozens of custom apps for our business needs, from customer billing and data collection to managing organizational projects, like tracking tax returns and managing 1099/W-9 customer data. A glance at my internal dashboard can tell me about the status of a client’s books, any overdue tax returns, missing invoices, or even the status of their 401(k). ) and its allowances.
I can also organize and submit my receipts from a recent business trip, book a room for an upcoming meeting with a client, upload my human resources and compliance forms, or access my team’s emergency contacts, to to name a few. All of these apps were made by our company, and I promise that no matter how nerdy we are, none of us would consider ourselves advanced computer programmers.
QuickBase also came in handy during the COVID-19 pandemic, when it helped us get organized as the government rolled out relief programs at an incredible pace. Our in-house applications for PPP1, PPP2, Employee Retention Credit, Supercharged Unemployment, HRSA Provider Relief Fund, etc., have been lifesavers over the past two years. The apps allowed our teams to collaboratively develop and update these programs in real time as details changed or new insights emerged. This, in turn, has helped us keep our customers on the front line to quickly claim these benefits during the pandemic.
I’m a bit addicted to innovation and technology, so exploring new options always excites me for the opportunities ahead. But when I think about how things were done before – and how many firms in the accounting field still feel decidedly 1980s in their technology – I’m grateful to be able to expand the resources in my field. After all, I made a promise to myself ten years ago to stay as far away from shoeboxes as possible!
If your current CPA frustrates you with a lack of forward-thinking technology options, consider looking for a more progressive accounting firm.
Author’s note: Moss, Luse & Womble, LLC (“MLW”) is a registered investment adviser with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The information in this article is intended to provide general information and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to offer investment advice or to be a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax or financial advice from a professional accountant or financial adviser.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the May 2022 print edition of Dental economy magazine. Dentists in North America can take advantage of a free print subscription. Register here.