Digitalisation is hitting the fiduciary sector hard! This was the conclusion of a Study conducted by Treuhand Suisse in 2016. You may have read such or similarly gloomy headlines again and again in recent months and years. You may now be wondering whether the title chosen was an oversight with all these worrying prospects. But this is not the case. Because new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning offer fiduciary companies a unique opportunity to realise their full potential!
The spectre of digitalisation
The spectre of digitalisation has been haunting the Swiss economy for some time. Disruptive technologies are squeezing tried-and-tested business models and sometimes even causing them to disappear from the market altogether. However, these developments are not a new phenomenon, as the following illustrative example from Kodak shows. Kodak launched the first consumer camera in 1888. For decades, the US company enjoyed a de facto monopoly and dominated the photo industry at will. Today, the former prime is only a shadow of its former self. Why? The management failed to invest in digital photography in time.
Customer needs changed, but Kodak stood still. Digital and above all fast was the order of the day. This need was met in particular by Asian camera manufacturers such as Canon and Samsung, which heralded the end of Kodak’s market leadership. What can we learn from the Kodak example? Yes, digitalisation can be quite dangerous. But new technology always offers opportunities to make products and services even better for customers. And this is exactly the opportunity that is now available to fiduciary companies!
The fettered fiduciary
Linguists should actually enter the term “relationship business” into the dictionary as a synonym for “fiduciary”. Hardly any other service is based on as much fiduciary and knowledge about the clientele as that of fiduciary companies. However, with current working tools, fiduciaries often do not have the necessary time to focus fully on the concerns and needs of their clientele.
According to the study by Treuhand Suisse, fiduciaries spend around 60% of their working time with repetitive administrative tasks. Tiresome tasks such as sorting receipts are considered time-wasters and tie highly skilled fiduciary professionals to their desks. Of course, accounting work is important and must be done neatly. But can a fiduciary company still stand out from the competition today with such standard services? Hardly!
Instead, individual advisory services and optimal customer processes ensure satisfied customers. For example, the BVG optimisation with improved benefits in old age remains in the customer’s memory for a lifetime. Digitalisation, which is often frowned upon, helps fiduciary companies to focus on such valuable advice.
The big misunderstanding about digitalisation
Originally, digitalisation was supposed to serve people and free them from dangerous and tedious activities. However, more and more entrepreneurial digitalisation initiatives are deviating from this basic idea. Instead of making people’s lives easier, digitalisation rather leads to a redistribution of work. With the help of technological possibilities, providers are increasingly shifting burdensome tasks onto the customer, which often leads to a worsening of the customer experience. A classic example of this: checking in luggage at the airport.
Have you ever tried to check in your luggage at one of these self-check-in desks? Truly not an easy undertaking (source: own experience)! This outsourcing to one’s own clientele can also be observed in the fiduciary sector. Many entrepreneurs today enter their documents themselves into an ERP system, which in turn is processed by a fiduciary company. In practice, this approach is considered state of the art and works relatively well.
The real needs of SMEs
Current solutions on the market give the impression that entrepreneurs are happy to do all the bookkeeping themselves. But how satisfied are SMEs with this approach and what do they really want from their fiduciary company? To answer this question, we cannot draw on empirical data. However, during our time as digital fiduciaries, we observed the following: On the one hand, SMEs would like to fulfil their administrative duties with as little effort as possible and, on the other hand, benefit from the expertise of a qualified fiduciary professional.
In particular, the need for valuable advisory services and a genuine sparring partner for entrepreneurial concerns seems to be strikingly high. New regulations, succession problems or crises such as COVID-19 present Swiss SMEs with unprecedented challenges. To cope with such situations, entrepreneurs want a strong partner at their side. Fiduciaries can take over this function, provided they can really focus on it. Innovative software solutions can help here.
Digitalisation 2.0 for the fiduciary industry
The transfer of tedious work to the clientele must definitely not be the purpose of digitalisation. Intelligent solutions like Accounto’s therefore free both SMEs and fiduciary companies from tedious accounting work. But in addition to the capacities created for valuable advisory services, the software also supports active cooperation with the client base. After all, fiduciaries always create wow effects when they exceed the expectations of their clientele. With a proactive customer approach, such positive experiences can be created in a targeted manner.
Let’s assume that a customer’s leasing contract expires next month. Presumably, this deadline is not on the client’s radar, which is why he will be faced with a fait accompli in a month’s time. With a reminder automatically generated by the software, the fiduciary company can proactively alert the client to the expiring contract. This is sure to create a wow effect with the customer, which, of course, has a positive effect on customer loyalty.
As you can see, with Accounto’s premium software, the fiduciary model can be intelligently digitised. Both SMEs and fiduciary companies benefit from this, which means that digitalisation in this area serves all parties involved. Fiduciary companies can free their clientele and themselves from tedious paperwork as well as actively manage client relationships. The result is a satisfied clientele and motivated employees. For us at Accounto, it is therefore clear: The winners of digitalisation are fiduciary companies.
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