Change / transformation Future-ready

Podcast: Your clients expect more. Are you delivering?

The expectations of our clients and customers are different than they were even just five years ago – and the reason, in large part, is technology.

Take search, for example. There’s an interesting book out called Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy, by George Gilder, and early in the book, Gilder makes the point that folks who search the Internet – almost everybody, in other words – are extremely impatient. We don't like to wait. Gilder says research shows that we're generally satisfied when results are delivered within one-twentieth of a second. Any slower that that and we start to get antsy.

A marketing expert named Sally Hogshead made a similar point at the recent CCH User Conference in Miami Beach. She claims the attention span of the average human is now about 9 seconds – shorter than that of a goldfish. Now whether or not that's true is up for debate, but her point is valid: We don't like to wait, and technology is the primary reason. We get stuff faster than ever. Why should we wait? Amazon can deliver pretty much anything to anybody in one or two days day, with one click. And now, thanks to Alexa, we don't even have to click. We can just say what we want.

Google was founded in 1998, Amazon in 1994, and the Alexa (which is now used for both searching and shopping) was introduced in 2017. Technology advances quickly, and consumer expectations change just as quickly – and we have to start getting ahead of that.

That's where this week's "Future-Proof" guest comes in. Ryan Estis is a sales and leadership expert who gave the keynote address at that very same CCH User Conference. He says services like Netflix, Uber, and AirBNB represent a huge shift in customer experience, and accounting and finance pros can stand to learn a lot from these companies.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • How the world is changing
  • The “experience of everything.”
  • The power of constantly be conducting experiments.
  • The first thing you can do to start becoming more future-ready.

Listen to our conversation here:



How blockchain is changing expectations Ranica Arrowsmith wrote a piece recently for Accounting Today with a hair-raising headline: “Audit dead in a decade?” Arrowsmith attended a recent roundtable at New York University, where David Yermack – a legal, economics, and finance expert and accounting professor at NYU's Stern School of Business – said he believes the audit profession may be dead in 10 years.

The reason is blockchain, the decentralized, distributed, transparent, and secure ledger that is the foundational technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Three excerpts from that article caught my eye.

First, a quote from Yermack:

"The distributed ledger reduces the need for audit by 97 percent. Auditors in the future will be competing on the basis of productivity, which will essentially mean who has the fastest hardware and software. And fraud, in the classical sense, will be all but impossible.”

Second, a quote from Arrowsmith:

"Yermack is not alone in his gloomy view of the future of the audit profession, although he may be one of the few to state the sentiment so boldly. The American Institute of CPAs is very aware of how A.I. is changing the sampling process drastically already, and recently launched an initiative to build what it’s calling a ‘Dynamic Audit Solution’ that it hopes will drastically change the methodology of audits. At its recent user conference, Sage Intacct shared a similar plan: The company wants to build software that shifts audit from 'after the fact' to 'real time and continuous.'”

And third, another viewpoint:

"Ryan Lazanis, a CPA and CA who was also at the NYU discussion, didn’t quite share Yermack’s view that audit will die, but does think the role of the auditor will change — perhaps drastically -- but that it will remain an important part of accounting services," Arrowsmith writes.

“'An auditor’s job has two parts,' Lazanis said. 'First, to provide independent verification of third-party data, but also to apply accounting standards, and use judgment to verify that the record is valid and accurate. The audit role will shift more to the second part than the first.'

"He went on to say that blockchain, as it develops, will be an 'interesting tool' for auditors, as it provides the ultimate audit trail.”

That's technology changing client expectations, and that's why accounting and finance pros need to pay attention to how technology is changing human behavior.

Ryan Estis says he switched CPAs about 18 months ago because his old CPA just wasn't future-ready -- and wasn't helping him become future-ready as a result.

"As my business complexity evolves and I'm preparing to grow into the future," Estis told me, "I need to make sure that I have a team of professionals around me that is anticipating my needs, that make a commitment to deeply understanding my business and my plans for the future. I need a strategic advisor, not someone who prepares my taxes and responds to my requests, and those are two very different relationships."

Are you preparing to meet client expectations in a changing and complex world?

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William D. Sheridan