The accounting industry doesn’t just attract the stereotypical ‘good with numbers’ types.
Take Andrea Ho, for instance. Andrea, an associate product manager at MYOB, who has a bachelor’s degree in fashion design. With honours.
“People raise their eyebrows when they hear what my degree is in,” Andrea laughs. “I graduated with a fashion degree, but always had a passion for software. It’s in the blood, I think – Dad’s in software as well.”
So how does a fashion graduate wind up at MYOB looking after Tax innovations as part of MYOB’s Connected Practice strategy?
“I worked for a fashion label in eCommerce for a few years out of uni, then got invited to join the start-up Practice Ignition. I love working with accountants,” she continues. “It’s the depth of knowledge they have. You learn a lot about business by talking to accountants.”
Andrea’s philosophy, carried over from Practice Ignition and reinforced at MYOB, is continuous improvement and automation.
“I think for accountants the biggest opportunity to automate is data entry – making use of information we already have to benefit the Connected Practice. In other words, to bring a client’s data into the practice more seamlessly.
“A big part of that automation is pre-filling data forms. Our aim is to pre-fill forms as much as possible, so that the accountant simply opens a form, and it’s pretty much ready to lodge.”
READ: The Connected Practice
What about the argument that automation is out to make accountants and bookkeepers unnecessary?
“Haha, oh no, quite the opposite. Accountants are critically key to the process. We’re just taking away the data entry, making them as efficient as possible. We’re all about empowering accountants to be even more efficient so they can provide more value to their clients – whether it’s business intelligence or advisory. Compliance is the firm’s bread and butter but this allows space for value – which is what clients are ultimately looking for.”
“We’re building a world where either the accountant submits the activity statement in their practice solution, or the SME manages it in their software. Either way, the accountant knows exactly where their client is at. The Tax team is working to combine the SME and accountant view by bringing it together in a dashboard.”
So what’s next after the successful delivery of the next phase of online activity statements in New Zealand and Australia?
“The big picture for me is taking Tax online. My goal is to make tax such an efficient process that accountants can do it with ease and have supreme confidence in the accuracy of the data. So there’ll be a lot of work around connecting systems.
“One thing we’re working on is pulling data from all different ledgers and platforms so that accountants can see it all in one place and they can choose which data stream they want to use. And they won’t have to worry about switching solutions depending on the system their clients are using. Just one centralised point of data. And then that leads to leveraging big data for insights sometime down the road.”
Grand plans indeed. No doubt fashioned with flair.
Images by Kate E Andrews. This article was originally published in Acuity Magazine, June 2016.