Survey finds that accounting firms are embracing remote work, enhancing client service, and navigating regulatory changes through technology
Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting (TAA) has released the results of its 5th annual Canadian Accounting Industry Survey. The 2023 Canadian Industry and Tax Season Challenges Report examines how effectively tax and accounting firms are meeting challenges related to working remotely, staff management, obtaining tax information, workflow and technology. The data clearly shows that the tax season was markedly different than the last, with Canadian firms feeling a breath of fresh air as they moved toward the end of the pandemic. Still, firms continue to be challenged to deliver their best during their busiest time of the year.
Notably, the survey reveals that Canadian firms are actively leveraging technology to embrace the post-pandemic trends of remote work and client collaboration. Around 80% of respondents are easily adapting to remote work, with 75% reporting that their tax compliance software makes it easier. They are working remotely relatively glitch-free, with many reports that they can effectively collaborate with co-workers (75%), finding it simple (72%) to exchange documents with clients without in-person contact.
Additional survey highlights include:
- So far this year, 46% of all mid-large firms with six or more full-time employees, and 41% of small firms with two-to-five full-time employees report recruiting remote staff from outside their geographical areas.
- Mid-to-large firms rely the most on temporary staff, 11% more than in previous years and 18% more than the aggregate.
- 82% of firms state that their team was up to speed on all the tax issues and updates that impact their returns, an increase of 8% from last year.
- 72% of respondents agreed that they were able to easily exchange documents with clients without in-person contact.
- Over 90% of all firms are confident client's data is protected and secure.
“Our 2023 study reveals valuable insights about remote working, staff management, obtaining tax information, as well as workflow and technology, that firms can benchmark against and apply,” said Dean Sonderegger, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Canada and Research & Learning, Wolters Kluwer TAA, North America. “Technology and digital transformation is seen to have a positive influence on every aspect of a firm's business, from preparation and collaboration to client service and payment. “Advanced tech tools, such as AI, have significant potential to impact how our industry provides accounting services now and in the future.”
Firms are seeing the benefits of technology when it comes to workflow
Technology has truly changed the way accounting firms operate, making them more efficient.
The survey showed that automation features such as autofill and job tracking saved time for just over 75% of respondents. Similarly, 85% found that it was simple to follow the status of tax returns.
On the other side, only 52% of respondents said they are using an electronic document management system. That means there is an opportunity for them to do so to improve their workflow.
Firms need to continue to keep open up of further technological advancements that can help make them more productive and profitable, according to Jill Weinstein, Director of Product Management, Wolters Kluwer TAA, North America. “Investing in a tech stack that will support productivity wherever your staff works remains critical for firms looking to maintain a competitive edge,” Weinstein noted. “In a remote or hybrid working world, the right tools and technology can make all the difference to your staff. “They empower them to work at peak efficiency so your firm can achieve its revenue and growth targets and best serve your clients.”
About the Wolters Kluwer Canadian Accounting Industry Survey
Wolters Kluwer administered its online tax season survey after the completion of the 2023 tax season. This comprehensive Canadian survey covered five essential subjects related to today's accounting world: working remotely, staff management, client service, obtaining tax information, and workflow and technology.
A series of questions were given to industry professionals across Canada in English or French. Participants included members of public accounting firms of all sizes and included both customers and non-customers of Wolters Kluwer. For the purposes of this survey, mid-to-large firms are defined as having six or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees, and small firms are defined as having between two and five full-time or full-time equivalent employees.