If client advice is our dog food, then we, as accounting professionals, need to be eating more of it. We are great at identifying solutions to our clients’ problems, proposing ways to improve their businesses, and advising them on cash flow optimization.
But when it comes to looking at our own processes, reviewing our technology, or even learning about the latest advancements in tools and technology, who has time? There’s always another deadline to be met, billings to get out, and new regulations to research. And besides, we are getting paid, and the work keeps coming, year after year.
We are not taking our own advice when it comes to sending invoices and getting paid online.
Why do accountants resist ePayments?
What accountant wouldn’t be the first to suggest electronic payments for their clients who are selling any kind of goods or services?
In most cases, we would advise them to optimize their cash flow by accepting both ACH (Automated Clearing House) and credit card payments. If we are truly being their “trusted advisor” we would also strongly suggest they send electronic invoices with embedded easy payment options. When it comes to paying their vendors, we would advise them to pay their bills electronically if at all possible in order to reduce or eliminate the potential for check fraud.
So why wouldn’t we want to help them eliminate at least one manual bill payment by providing an easy to use, electronic bill payment option on our own emailed professional service invoices? All the better if the payment system is tightly integrated with our accounts receivable, time and billing and customer relationship management (CRM) solution.
Benefits of ePayments for clients and firms
ePayment options on our own invoices offer several benefits to both our clients and our firm.
From the client’s perspective:
- It is easier for them to pay our invoice in full with a single credit card. They may have smart cards with variable pre-defined limits per employee in place for managing their operating expenses that can be used by their accounts payable staff. (See smart cards like Brex and Penny, Inc which are designed for this purpose.)
- ePayments reduce the risk of check fraud. According to a JPMorgan survey conducted for the Association of Financial Professionals, more than 70% of those surveyed had experienced some form of check fraud.
- The invoice and the payment option are in one place requiring fewer steps.
- They can avoid late charges by paying on time.
Accounting firms also benefit from sending invoices and getting paid online.
Some of the ways accounting firms benefit from ePayments include:
- Improved cash flow and faster payments.
- Fewer inquiries about lost invoices and missing payments since payment and invoice details are in one place.
- Enhanced image as a technology-savvy firm.
- Compliance with PCI security standards for credit cards. (Since credit card details are not stored in our system but remain with the payment processor.)
For most accountants, you might say the tail has been wagging the dog. We wait until our clients force us to learn about new technology before we invest time in learning about it. Rarely are we the first to seek out automated solutions that might serve our clients.
Electronic invoice payment options are a painless and rewarding way for accounting firms of all sizes to demonstrate leadership in applying intelligent automation. By putting our clients at the center of every technology decision we make, we can finally start to make progress in becoming the kinds of proactive advisors our clients crave.
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