The accountant can become a client’s primary go-to place for all financial information - the facilitator of the one-to-one business relationship between the business or consumer and the party from which they are attaining products or services. The big banks, insurance companies and brokerage firms see the importance of this and are trying to figure out how they can seize this once in a lifetime opportunity. This occurrence, like the Oklahoma land rush, will indeed be very hotly contested because there literally will only ever be one aggregating place.
Once these organizations themselves as the aggregator of choice, this will shape where clients go to get their financial information. If accountants can themselves in this role, they will serve as the hub and resource for all things financial, including being the central point for adding to or retrieving client financial information and also to cross selling additional products and services.
When multiple parties are involved, the aggregator’s brand name gets exposed to numerous businesses and consumers – multiple parties – parties one otherwise may not have reached. This exposure generates greater brand awareness and increased traffic to the aggregator’s Web site, causing the search engines to rank the aggregator’s business higher, thus making the aggregator’s business more visible to prospects. Accountants can ask their clients to make [the accountant’s] Web site the home page on the client’s browser, which substantially increases the amount of hits the accountant’s Web site gets daily, which increases the accountant’s Web site rankings in Google.
Become “The Aggregator”
The aggregator will reap the rewards of being critical to a client's everyday operation, rather than being one of the many secondary players whose purpose is reduced to feeding or retrieving client information from the aggregator’s central financial hub. When the accountant becomes the aggregator, their Web site becomes the client’s dashboard for their business and financial life. The aggregator provides clients with all of the financial data they need to run their business and daily lives, and clients will login to the aggregator’s Web site daily to:
*Learn how much money they have in the bank;
*Track outstanding checks that have cleared;
*Determine the real bank balance after the outstanding checks have been cleared, which is something the bank cannot do because they will not know the checks that have been issued;
*See what accounts receivable look like after the day’s collections and ACH payments have been automatically applied;
*See what payments need to be made for vendors and tax agencies;
*Approve payments and send them on their electronic way;
*Read financial or business news from the news feeds on the accountant’s Web site;
*Check their stock portfolio; and
*Determine what their current net worth is.The final piece of the puzzle
There is one final step, being worked on at the present time that needs to come to fruition for the aggregator situation to unfold. All of the players – accounting industry, big banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms - need to agree to standards for the exchange of information. Once this standard is defined and in place, the race will be on and the aggregator position, much like the six million acres in Okalahoma, will be up for grabs.
When standards are published, the floodgates will open and the Internet will be ready for the incredible amount of financial information being exchanged. The fourth generation Internet, known as “The Grid,” is ready and positioned to fuel this transformative period. The grid changes everything about the speed and volume of business being done via the Internet, bringing with it a true paradigm shift, an opportunity for the players to handle previously unimaginable volumes of transactions. In addition to the convenience of having clients’ financial information at ones; fingertips, there are many compelling reasons driving the aggregator model.
Clients will experience tremendous labor savings and cost benefits by utilizing this approach. Additionally, clients will be able to eliminate on site networks by using this cloud-based process to run their businesses at a much lower cost. This will result in major dollar savings and promote a much more secure computing environment. Much like how the need for secretaries diminished after the 1950s and 60s, administrative data entry tasks will be effectively eliminated by technology. The re-keying of invoices, payments, and checks will become automatic electronic feeds. This will result in huge productivity increases similar to the one fueled by the financial boom of the 1990's.
When this final piece of the puzzle is in place, the grab will be on. It is imperative for the accountants to totally rethink how they interact with clients and to stay on top of this once in a lifetime opportunity to become their clients’ source for all things financial – to become the aggregator.