Gone are the days where traditional face-to-face meetings with your local accountant – or anybody for that matter – were the only option. These cogs were undoubtedly already in motion, but were certainly oiled by the pandemic when remote and online working become vital.
Remote meetings with your accountant aren’t just a lifeline to keep business-as-usual ticking over when the proverbial hits the fan. Taking your accounting online can actually benefit your business, and promote a more efficient way of working.
The benefits of working with a remote accountant
You may well find there are still some accountancy firms that prefer, or even insist on, client meetings or other work taking place in person. Moving away from longstanding convention isn’t easy for everybody, and it might take a bit of time for some people to catch up.
If your accountant or accountancy firm falls into that bracket then you’ve got three options:
- Accept that’s how they feel they work best right now, and carry on regardless
- Try to establish if remote working is something they’re willing to consider
- Replace them with another accountant that does offer digital collaboration
If you’ve never worked with an online accountant before, and you’re not sure what to expect, it might be worth doing a spot of research first. Benefits include:
- Time-efficiency, because you won’t need to spend time travelling for in-person visits
- A digital accountant doesn’t need to be local, so you have more choice
- Costs tend to be cheaper, because online accountants are based on your local high street (and paying the city centre rates that come with it!)
Finding ways to work more effectively and efficiently with your accountant in the long term, such as remote meetings, will also bolster the relationship for the future.
How to make remote meetings with your accountant more productive
As with most things, the success of an online meeting largely comes down to preparing ahead so you can get the most out of your time.
- Send invitations out in good time – not as a last minute request with no warning.
- Include everyone who needs to participate in your invitation. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to make assumptions that don’t deliver.
- Remember to set up the virtual meeting, and include a link! Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are all popular examples.
- Send any necessary documents well in advance. It gives attendees chance to digest them, so you’ll have more useful engagement.
- Include an agenda of the points that you would like to cover, so everyone has chance to prepare.
Set an agenda and stick to it
Naturally, the conversation will dip in and out of various topics, but we recommend creating an agenda beforehand and using that as a guide.
This is as important for in-person meetings as it is for remote meetings, but when you’re not all sharing the same physical space, additional structure can be super helpful.
When it comes to online meetings, it’s also a good idea to allow some time for niceties and personal chit-chat. It can be more challenging to maintain this dynamic when you aren’t communicating face-to-face.
Make sure everybody leaves with clear action points
Again, this is as valuable for in-person meetings as it is for online meetings. Ensuring everybody leaves with clear action points around next steps is essential for optimal productivity. Confirm them in writing after the meeting, so that everybody has the same information.
Record the meeting for future reference
Consider this the modern version of taking minutes and one of the biggest benefits of having online or telephone meetings with your accountant. When you have a recording of the meeting on file, you can refer back to it if needs be or share it with anybody who wasn’t able to make the original meeting.
This will reduce time spent chasing information post-meeting, so you can share information in a time-savvy and efficient manner.
So, to summarise, to make your remote meetings with your accountant more productive:
- Make sure your meeting invites are accurate and include all of the relevant people and information.
- Set an agenda beforehand and stick to it as closely as possible.
- Make sure anybody who needs to leave with action points is clear about what is expected of them and what the next steps are.
- Record the meeting for future reference – one of the most unsung benefits of online meetings, so take advantage of it.
Right, you’re all set to become a remote meeting pro. By putting all of the advice outlined above into practice, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without online meetings before!