Visual search software opens up new frontiers for accountants

By Benjamin Balk, October 17, 2015

With accounting profession under extreme pressure from digital disruption, to be relevant accountants will need to shift from their current reliance on compliance and tax to a much greater emphasis on management accounting and the provision of advisory services.

A critical part of this evolutionary process will be the adaptation to new technology and the use of commercial information management solutions (CIM) to aid and abet the delivery of these delivery.

One such CIM technology is SAI Global Property's search visualisation platform, Encompass.

What the platform does is gather company and securities data from multiple government registers and sources - including ASIC, Land Title Offices and the PPS Register - presenting it as visual interactive corporate 'trees' and reports.

This allows users to readily grasp the relationships across this data and more easily understand how individuals, companies and property are connected.

Using the CIM software accounting practitioners can, at a glance, determine the status and circumstances of their clients and the companies they have dealings with – if they hold directorships and shareholdings, if there are issues with bankruptcy, what properties and equipment they own, what loans they have, with who and the size of these loans - in essence the full picture.

Benjamin Balk

SAI Global General Manager Product and Marketing

This not only allows for quicker and more effective decision making but enables accountants to offer more valuable, often more complex advice on issues such as family trusts, loan refinancing and debt consolidation. Basically they can add value to their clients in ways that have never before been possible, providing them with the ideal client engagement and attraction tool and the perfect mechanism for holding on to their clients longer term.

Benjamin Balk

Mr Balk says Encompass also provides the profession with the perfect mechanism to broaden their offerings to include advisory services such as risk management, due diligence, even succession planning.

“In addition to better understanding the relationships and interconnectedness of companies, Encompass goes another step further by visually highlighting potential future business opportunities, recommended areas for  change and issues that may be of risk to client businesses such as conflict of interest and relationships which are not at arms' length.

From a succession planning perspective, accountants can get insights into the age and tenure of directors in a client’s company and can determine whether or not advise on bringing in new blood. Encompass can also assist accountants advising clients looking to sell up better understand the value of their businesses, potentially allowing for am equitable redistribution of assets among heirs

Benjamin Balk

Ultimately what the visual software brings to the accounting profession is the perfect springboard to expand their offerings, to increase their professionalism and generally stand out in a crowded market place, says Mr Balk.