Today’s accounting practices have rocketed through major technological changes that shape how business is done. The makeup of accountants’ client bases has also shifted markedly.
In recent years, millennials have overtaken Gen X as the largest group in the workforce.
In my keynote address to open the Accounting Business Expo in Sydney this week, I emphasised that many millennials (those born between 1982 and 2004, also known as Gen Y) are now in their mid-30s. They are often business founders who know how to wrangle social media and cloud technologies to conquer their needs and bond with their clients.
Millennials reached adulthood smack-bang in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis. They saw how the dedicated worker’s future in a corporate career got disrupted so easily. This gave rise to entrepreneurship being a valid career choice.
Renowned demographer Bernard Salt once said millennials are more accurately dubbed ‘Generation E’ to match their entrepreneurial ways.
So, accountants need to know how the millennial business owners tick and run their businesses if accountants want their professional help to slot in nicely.
A study by Bentley University showed that two thirds of millennials want to call themselves a business owner, as opposed to 13 percent who hanker for a career in a large corporate environment.
As technology natives growing up with technological revolution as the norm, millennials don’t need to be convinced of the benefits of using technology to manage tasks in their businesses. For them, technology is not to be feared and they are willing to embrace – and pay – for solutions that demonstrate their capacity to make life easier.
For this generation, money is no longer the primary driver.
The ‘disloyal’ and ‘easily distracted’ traits are a myth. A study of millennial small business owners by Wells Fargo reveals committed business owners who:
The huge guiding factor is lifestyle balance and the flexibility of being their own boss.
In a survey by Bill.com in the US, more than 1000 thousand business owners defined critical traits of an accounting firm. Interestingly, the answer isn’t technical proficiency.
The big hitters were:
Surprising? Relationships mean more to these business owners. They crave a mentor, someone who is on their side, who cares as much about their business as they do, and who can advise them clearly and concisely.
As technology automates more of the basic tasks to complete accounts, millennials’ reliance on these relationships will get stronger. Accounting practices need to engage on their clients’ terms, through email and social media – the comfort zone for millennials.
Bill.com unearthed the specific services that millennials demand from their accountant. Start with these ones:
Our own data, presented in the MYOB Business Monitor (December 2017), reveals the investment honey pots for millennial business owners and their unique pressure points.
These millennial business owners beat all other generations in their 2018 strategies to invest in the following areas:
Then there are the pain points that millennial business owners identified. These impacts are ‘extreme’ or ‘a lot’ – more than any other cohort:
Most millennial business owners are committed and passionate. They lack the skills or desire to manage their bookwork alone. Instead, they’re looking for knowledgeable advisors who can offer a complete service and become a valued mentor to their business.