Date posted: 25/09/2020 3 min read

Connecting through technology with John Schol

Peter Rupp FCA, President of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, speaks to John Schol CA, CEO at Malloch McClean Limited, on the Gen CA podcast.

In brief

  • Technology is key to advancing the status of accountant as trusted adviser
  • Relationships are being built and maintained in new ways
  • A growth mindset is key to success

Now more than any other time the business community is turning to their accountants for advice and support. So where do accountants turn? According to John Schol CA, they need to dig deep into their analytical abilities and use technology to inform their decisions.

Former painter's apprentice and now 20 year accounting industry veteran John Schol CA is sharply focused on the distinction between using technology to do business, and using it enables business and enhances advisory skills. He should know; he's been at the forefront of technology since computers were the size of shipping containers and being first introduced to business.

"Computers were just starting to come in and we had the likes of MYOB just starting to progress into clients' lives. What I learned quickly was that we were able to develop a scorecard. That's what technology has done for us. It's brought us live data, but it's also allowed us to create a scorecard for businesses. Technology has just grown and grown and grown over those last 15 years to what we have today," says Schol.

New technology brings new ways of working and new opportunities for accountants, both for themselves, their businesses and their clients. Schol says the sheer breadth of learning opportunities around technology mean that we're evolving faster than ever before and taking cues from a new generation of CAs.

"A new team member coming through, doing the professional exams, they're just gaining confidence because they've got so many different places to learn from. They can learn from YouTube, they can learn from the on-demand courses, they can record things and watch them later. They have so much more confidence and so much more flexibility in the way that they learn. They've been through three or four different adoptions of technology in their lives already. They're used to things being eroded and new opportunities coming in."

Technology has evolved to assist delivery of data, then information, and finally advice. Now accountants are maximising technology to move beyond process-driven work and fully inhabit the role of a trusted advisor helping move businesses into the future.

"We shouldn't fear the fact that some of our process-driven work has been taken away because clients are looking to us to add more and more value. The more time we can spend interpreting data and giving advice with a mark against where we are now and where we want to be, and creating milestones, is a real step forward for the industry," says Schol.

Technology also allows for relationships to be built and maintained in a more informal way than was done in the past. According to Schol, using shorter video calls more frequently suits many of his clients and has built stronger relationships.

"We need to embrace what technology offers us. I coach a lot of accounting firms, and we're getting on Zoom together every fortnight for an hour, whereas we used to get together one day a quarter. That's delivering value in a different way to people. It's about depth and having that abundance mindset around what we're trying to create and achieve."

The personal advice to anyone looking to maximise their trusted advisor status through use of technology, or galvanising their courage to learn new ways of working, is to never stop learning, says Schol.

"Have an abundance mentality. Don't hold onto knowledge, give knowledge, look to learn something in everything you do."
John Schol CA, CEO at Malloch McClean Limited.

"That will give you energy every day and keep pushing you along because you can never stop learning."

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