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Stuart A. Black , Paul Thompson  | 

In a few short years, smartphone applications have gone from margin to mainstream. Many accountants now regularly use them to make work and life simpler and less costly. Today there are countless apps available to help improve productivity and access to information. These apps help us arrange business travel, network with clients and colleagues, store and share information, and more. There are reckoned to be over a million iOS apps in Apple’s App Store and possibly even more Android apps in Google Play. So we are spoilt for choice—but left wondering which apps to choose.

So what apps should we use? SMP Committee members helped us compile the following list of apps for accountants. It’s worth noting that their usefulness may depend upon where you are located. And most can be used for both business and pleasure. We’d be interested to know your views including what other apps you’d recommend to fellow accountants.

  • Wi-Fi Finder—to help you find the nearest and cheapest Wi-Fi network
  • Evernote—to help you take memo notes without pen, paper, or Post-it
  • Feedly—to help you browse and share your favorite news sites and feeds
  • Dropbox—to help you store and share files
  • Keeper—to help securely manage passwords
  • TripIt—to help organize your travel plans
  • XE Currency—to help convert from one currency to another
  • Uber—to help get a pick-up from airport, client, or hotel

Other apps worth a mention, though these carry a small sticker price, include PrintCentral (to print from smartphone or tablet to printer—iOS), The World Clock (to determine times across different time zones), HP12C (to make financial calculations), and AirServer (to stream content or mirror your display from your iOS devices).

If you wish to read more about which apps might prove useful to you, check out the AICPA’s “5 Apps for CPAs” (Journal of Accountancy, April 2014), and for file management apps, in particular, see “6 File Manager Apps for iOS and Android” (Business News Daily, April 2014).

There are some that argue that accounting practices should develop their own apps. Such proponents stress that apps can help realize business opportunities—helping firms engage with their clients and develop closer working relationships, in so doing, offering a new channel to deliver key services and helping turn clients into business advocates.

Interested in developing one yourself? The AICPA provides useful best practices and guidance in its article “How to Develop and Publish a Mobile App” (Journal of Accountancy, February 2012), including a series of steps firms can follow to avoid the various pitfalls on the road to development. The article stresses that firms “should not pursue the creation of a mobile application without a clear and compelling reason to do so.”

Join the Conversation

What are your favorite apps to help you in your work day and why? 

Stuart A. Black

IFAC SMP Committee Member

Stuart A. Black spent 37 years in public practice, starting in the audit section of a Big 4 firm and moving on to a SMP where he specialised as a trusted advisor in family business, retiring as managing partner in 2013, to move on to the next stage of his career as a professional director. He is a past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, a member of the Australian Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board and a member of the IFAC SMP Committee. Stuart was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012 for services to the profession of accounting, to ethical standards, as a contributor to professional organisations, and to the community.

Paul Thompson

Technical Director, European Federation of Accountants and Auditors for SMEs

Paul Thompson is EFAA Technical Director and a consultant dedicated to thought leadership and development of the global accountancy profession. Mr. Thompson also serves on the International Accounting Standard Board's SME Implementation Group and is a member of Nottingham University Business School Malaysia’s Industry Advisory Board, an advisory group providing strategic advice to the Business School. He  also advises developing professional accountancy organizations in Europe and Asia.

From 2004 to 2016 Mr. Thompson worked for IFAC, latterly as a director, overseeing support of small- and medium-sized practices and professional accountants in business, research and innovation, and the Knowledge Gateway.

Prior to his work with IFAC, Mr. Thompson worked for Touche Ross & Co., London before going on to lecture on corporate reporting and analysis at universities in the UK, Singapore, and Malaysia. He has a number of publications in academic journals and the professional press in the areas of ethical finance, corporate reporting, corporate governance, integrated reporting, practice management and the future of the profession.

Mr. Thompson graduated from the University of Warwick with a bachelor of science in accounting and financial analysis and is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.