SMBs and Tax Time: A Look at Managed Accounting Services
As tax season winds down (or should be winding down for everyone who completed their forms on time), the heavy focus many businesses have placed on accounting will turn elsewhere. But access to quality accounting services is something every business, particularly SMBs who need to save every dime they can, needs to make a priority year round.
For all too many SMBs, obtaining top-notch accounting services is a nice idea that never quite comes to fruition. Most of the quality accounting firms either ignore the SMB market altogether or simply offer basic compliance services, saving the intensive research and figuring that can produce substantial additional tax savings for their larger clients with deeper pockets.
The situation is severe enough that Australian accounting services provider The Proactive Accountants Network, an operation focused on providing personalized accounting and business advisory services to SMBs, is launching a US operation.
MSPs Can Be Proactive, Too
The Proactive Accountants Network does offer some interesting SMB-oriented features, including a ban on hourly billing and a promise of long-term relationships that include financial coaching as well as tax compliance. However, The Proactive Accountants Network is essentially a franchise operation where existing accountants receive specialized training and offer standardized services.
Nothing against franchisees, but this is a business model MSPs can compete against if they take a proactive approach, as well. MSPs can provide SMBs with access to the same type of sophisticated financial and accounting systems that large enterprises traditionally use. Instead of relying on simple spreadsheet-based small business applications that are essentially souped-up versions of financial software used by private individuals, SMBs can instead leverage advanced systems that can manage payroll, benefits, accounts payable and receivable, invoicing, RFPs, unemployment insurance, currency exchange, budgetary projections and planning, and many other higher-level financial activities that go beyond complying with federal, state and local tax codes.
These systems can equal and in many cases exceed the capabilities of the type of small accounting firms that will probably become Proactive Accountants Network franchisees, and at a competitive cost with potential 24/7 access. You probably cannot call your accountant at 4 AM, but you can plug into your managed accounting service. MSPs will not eliminate the need for human accountants, but they can certainly fill in a lot of gaps and significantly expand upon the services being offered.