Sage

Canadian Accountants Are Less Social Media Savvy, More Concerned About Work-Life Balance

In February, Sage revealed some disturbing results based on a random survey of 500 U.S. members of its Sage Accountants Network. Of them, U.S. respondents were a tad behind the curve when it comes to social media (shocker) and obsessed with finding new clients.

This time around, Sage North America surveyed 200 of its French-Speaking Canadian Sage Accountants Network members and discovered the following:

Among the 947 respondents, the biggest challenge facing their firms was tied at 34 per cent for time management and work-life balance, followed by keeping up with technology at 29 per cent. This was a stark contrast to their American counterparts who reported that their biggest challenge was getting new clients (35%), tax law complexity and changes (22%) and the effect of new regulations and standards on small firms (25%).

In terms of social media, the survey indicates a slower adoption rate among Canadian respondents than their U.S. counterparts with 58 per cent stating that they aren’t using any social media tools in a professional capacity compared to 43 per cent of those in the US. In fact, only 23 per cent of respondents’ firms have a website compared to 37 per cent in the U.S. For those using social media, the survey reveals that the key tools that are being used are LinkedIn (22%) and Facebook (18%).

Although there are numerous Canadian accounting professional association publications, when asked which accounting publications respondents read, 56 per cent stated that they do not read anything compared to only 19 per cent of U.S. respondents.

It’s that last number that is most upsetting. No one is suggesting accountants have to be on top of breaking news but as financial planners, advisers and business minds, it’s sort of important that they at least attempt to keep up with the profession (*ahem*). It’s not like there’s a lot to break all the damn time.

Being Twitter Savvy Does Not Keep Accountants Awake at Night

Because we can never get enough surveys, Sage came through with the skinny on what keeps accountants awake at night (no joke). We’re proud to say that alcoholism and Caleb’s typos did not make the list but there’s always next year. Way to go, profession!


Sage surveyed more than 500 of its Sage Accountants Network members across the U.S. in December 2010 to figure out what gets accountants’ knickers in a twist. Results as follows:

Among the 533 respondents, 34% stated that getting new clients tops their list of concerns. 28% cited tax law complexity and changes as an issue; followed by the effect of new regulations and standards on small firms, keeping up with technology, and time management concerns, all at 24%. Work/life balance was cited by 20% of respondents, and keeping up with professional standards was a key concern for 17% of those surveyed. 13% of respondents cited access to affordable healthcare for employees as a worry for their firms.

Perhaps in response to the search for new clients, 83% of firms currently specialize or are planning to specialize in specific vertical business segments. By far, services/consulting was the most popular category for specialization (63% of those surveyed), followed by construction at 43% and retail at 39%. Other popular areas of specialization include working with nonprofits (35%), restaurants (30%), and manufacturing/distribution (29%) clients.

The full survey may be found here.

We found it a bit odd that retaining clients, retaining staff and managing staff came in at 9%, 3% and 2%, respectively. Obviously there is a bit of a work/life balance overlap in there somewhere but because we here at Going Concern know no such thing, we could not bring ourselves to analyze these results further.

It’s the social media section of the survey that shocked us most. Not to say that the results themselves were shocking, exactly, as the shocking part lies in how some of these firms actually manage to make money. What do they use to attract new clients, carrier pigeons and sandwich boards? Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents use their own websites as “social media,” though in our humble opinion the “social” part means using a more conversational form of communication than some .com with your firm name in it. Twenty-eight percent use LinkedIn, 19% are on Facebook and – wait for it – 7% have gotten into Twitter. 7%! A frightening 43% of respondents don’t use social media at all, perhaps explaining why 34% are concerned about getting new clients. They must not be that concerned if they aren’t using social media to put themselves out there.

Know what this says to me if I’m a firm looking to make a killing through social media? Hit Twitter, it’s a no man’s land and you won’t have to elbow out the competition. Really, people? 7%?!

Know what else this also says to me? All my evangelizing about not acting like an ass on Twitter has been in vain; if firms aren’t using it, they probably don’t know how to search for your tweets about getting wasted and wanting to stab the senior for acting like a jackass. So have at it, it’s just you and the MLM bots tweeting out there until these guys get a clue and jump on board.

I think you kids know what to do from here.

What Do We Make of The Sage and SAP Rumors?

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB UK, a source that delivers topical, practical content to accountants and accounting professionals.

Merger rumors. What would we do without them? The past decade or so of my professional life has been shaped by the regular appearance of bid rumors around Sage, usually of the “who are they going to buy this week?” sort.

So you can imagine my surprise to hear on the grapevine that Sage’s share price had surged almost 5% on Tuesday night on rumors that it was an acquisition target for SAP, with Microsoft and Gapgemini reported to be sniffing around the undergrowth in Newcastle too.

I’m not a stock market analyst, so I don’t really need to chase geese like this, but I couldn’t help myself from doing a little background checking. The Daily Mail appears to have broken the story, without naming sources, around 10:30 pm on Monday night. By the next morning, Reuters and numerous other outlets had picked up the trail and various analysts were puffing up the story with blogs and tweets.

There was a tweet from China Martens at 451 group of “late night activity in Walldorf” to verify that something was up, but with none of the companies involved breaking cover this really was one of those stories where one bit of unfounded gossip was feeding off another.


Years of industry-watching have taught me never to be surprised at what a software company with a wedge of cash in its back pocket can get up to, but neither SAP or Microsoft strike me as being suitable suitors for Sage. Microsoft’s entire business solutions strategy has been in turmoil for years and if it ever enters Steve Ballmer’s consciousness, my guess is that he wishes the company had never got into bed with Great Plains and Navision.

SAP meanwhile, is everything that Sage isn’t: a technology-focused global monolith that still has trouble thinking of an SME as having anything less than a $500m annual turnover. On this point Dennis Howlett blogged, “So much of Sage’s business is at an end of the market about which SAP has little understanding. Sage is on a declining organic growth curve, has a rat’s nest of code from acquired companies, is propped up by maintenance fees and has a nightmare in the US to manage with the ongoing Emdeon fiasco.”

It doesn’t happen often, but for once I find myself in complete agreement with him.

Strangely, by Wednesday afternoon the rumors had simmered down and so had the share price (although somebody seems to have done very nicely out of the rumors with 1.7m of shares shifted at the peak of the frenzy on Tuesday night).

Now I’ve voiced my doubts, they’ll probably turn around an announce the deal in the morning.

Accounting News Roundup: Adelphia’s Rigases Get Second Chance in Tax Fraud Case; Grant Thornton Purchases Avalion Consulting | 05.14.10

Adelphia’s Rigases Win New Hearing in Tax-Fraud Case [Bloomberg]
John and Timothy Rigas are both doing time for their convictions in the Adelphia fraud but the their conviction in New York doesn’t seem to have satisfied the Keystone State. The two mean have been indicted on several tax-related charges in PA. Despite the prosecutorial zealousness, the federal appeals court in Philly ruled that prosecutors must allow the Rigases to present evidence that they are getting the double jeopardy treatment, as the tax charges are directly related to their crimes at Adelphia.


FASB Codifies SEC Announcement on Foreign Currency [Compliance Week]
Occurrences in Venezuela are capable of affecting the FASB’s agenda as Compliance Week reports that this recent guidance, “focuses on foreign currency issues related to investments or operations in Venezuela.” So, if you’ve got clients or do business in Hugo Land, you should probably check out Accounting Standards Update No. 2010-19.

Sage: Paul Walker CEO’s successor [AccMan]
“Let’s be honest – Sage is in the crapper,” sayeth Dennis Howlett.

Grant Thornton LLP purchases assets of Dallas-based firm Avalion Consulting LLC [GT Press Release]
Grant Thornton’s purchase of the group, “comprises two partners; Avalion’s IT consulting staff; and its IT and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) intellectual property, including Avalion’s patented GRC software solution – ComplianceSet®.”

ComplianceSet is a SaaS solution that “serves as the technical foundation for a process-based approach” for governance, risk and compliance; SOx, internal audit, and enterprise risk management.

Spreading the Good SaaS Word

“How dare Sage criticise anyone else! They exist because clients and accountants don’t want to change. If only clients could see what SAAS would give them (provided they had the right accountants). Perhaps I need to become an evangelist!”

~ Unnamed accountant, commenting on Sage’s tepid position on SaaS.

Sage Seeks to Bring SaaS to Nonprofits

As you probably already know, the only place to work these days is in the cloud. Even the AICPA has gotten in on the fun, evangelizing cloud computing for small to midsize companies and accounting firms.

Sage Nonprofit Solutions seeks to provide easier fundraising and tracking of donors to nonprofits of all sizes who may otherwise be priced out of technology through Sage Fundraising Online, a pay-as-you-go solution without the large software pricetag.


The breakthrough allows nonprofits to respect their bottom lines without sacrificing the benefits of technology; easier “client” tracking, fundraising through social media, and monitoring the conversation, to name a few. The application will also allow for specific marketing campaigns, integration with existing cloud options like Salesforce.com and even promises ease of use and cooperation with an organization’s existing software.

“We’re offering Sage Fundraising Online in a way that allows even smaller, more resource-strapped organizations to take advantage of the service, because we’re keeping the cost to entry low with a ‘pay as you go’ model,” said Sage senior vice president and general manager for nonprofit solutions Krista Endsley. “Likewise, development professionals and nonprofit executives expect software vendors to supply tools and services that are flexible, dynamic, and provide great value. Sage Fundraising Online helps to meet these needs for nonprofits and their constituents.”

Relationship management, “client” retention and reporting requirements are slightly different in the non-profit sector but not at all different fundamentally. Clients still need to be retained, relationships cared for and reports pristine – in the case of non-profits, it’s the donors that need answers, not shareholders. It goes without saying that an efficient non-profit can provide comprehensive answers without burning excessive manpower hours and precious funding to do so; Sage’s latest application promises to give non-profits that very efficiency minus the large upfront cost associated with most cloud computing options.

Announced at AFP’s 47th International Conference on Fundraising, the product does not appear to be live on Sage’s website as yet. We know at least one technology professional who might be foaming at the mouth just thinking about its release but we don’t name names and for now, we are somewhat but not excessively excited to see what Sage Fundraising Online can do for NFPs in the future.

New ePhilanthropy Service From Sage North America Can Help Nonprofits Increase Giving, Participation, and Overall Support [Marketware]