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work becomes automated, firms can
free up their partners and staff to do
the more value-added work, such
as inter preting data to offer clients
deeper business insights.
“Our staff will have to spend less
time on the repetitive tasks. We hope
to use more technology in our audit
work. That’s something we’ll explore
more in the coming years,” says Lee.
Indeed, technology is helping
SMPs offer ser vices once limited
to larger firms, notes Yau at RSM.
“The cloud monthly fee subscr iption
model and the ease of managing these
cloud ser vices have allowed SMPs
to close the gap with larger firms as
traditionally these infrastructures
and offerings would require a
lot of capital expenditure, talent
investments, as well as ad ministrative
responsibilities,” he says. “The
cloud model allows SMPs to spend
more time providing valuable advice
to clients rather than focusing on
Cloud computing, however, is
not a perfect solution. Lack of direct
controls, standard contracts offering
little protection, cost overr uns,
network reliability and bandwidth,
and integration challenges are all
included in Yau’s list of pitfalls.
For many practices, security is
one of the main concer ns. “There are
pitfalls and constraints to moving
online due to cybersecurity. And for
SMPs we don’t really have ver y big IT
depar tments. We rely on contractors,”
says Lee. “I know that many SMPs are
concer ned about cloud computing due
Another drawback for Lee
concerns the ownership of data.
“Because data will not be on our own
server or on our own hard disk, it’ll be
somewhere on the web, and whether
it is in a secure manner, we don’t have
any knowledge of that,” he says.
The ability to switch cloud provid-
ers is a further sticking point for some.
Inadequate customer-provider trust is
clearly still an issue for many SMPs.
Cloud computing can lower costs. The
Software-as -a -Ser vice (SaaS) model
does not require large upfront licence
fees or large outlays on hardware.
Neither does it require lengthy testing
and roll-out periods as large-scale
IT projects needed in the past. SaaS
products can also be easily scaled
up and down depending on a firm’s
Attracting and retaining talented
individuals in technology-savv y firms
is also a huge bonus, which is not lost
on some. “Technology attracts talent,
so in our recruitment we show how we
use technology and that also distin-
guishes us from the old-fashioned way
of doing things. We are trying to move
ahead, and it is appealing to our new
recruits,” says Lee.
It is clear that SMPs in Hong Kong
are aware of the need to embrace
technology but they are not jumping in
head-first. Practices are assessing their
needs and those of their clients, and
dipping their toes in tentatively with
one service line and reviewing
the outcome before migrating
online with another ser vice.
Scalability – Expand or add-on as
small- and medium-sized firms and
their clients grow.
Agility – Adjust strategy and
improve future profitability of both
firms and clients.
Real time – Collaborate with
clients on their accounts as they go
rather than waiting until year-end.
Improved insights – Offer better
Lower costs – No more upfront
licence fees or large outlays on
Relevance – Clients using cloud
will expect their accountants to do
Security – SMPs still have
reservations over the control of
Cost – Costs remain high in Hong
Kong compared to other parts of
Ownership – Who owns your data?
“There are pitfalls
and constraints to
moving online due to
for SMPs we don’t
really have very big
April 2017 31
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