One of the advantages of attending Accountex for me is to be able to catch up with interesting developments I may have missed. One such was a white paper issued by Intuit at the end of 2013 on The Changing role of Accountancy. Subtitled – The Strategic Accountant: A Case for the Cloud.
It’s well worth a read as it is based on in-depth opinion research conducted by an independent company. They collated the views of 200 owners and senior managers of UK businesses with between 2 and 250 employees. (identified as SMBs). The objective was to determine how the accountancy profession is changing against a backdrop of rapidly evolving technological advancements and heightened client expectations.
You can read a quick summary of the key results here>>>
The stats I consider worth highlighting on this blog are from the SMB’s:
- 72% believe that accountants must modernise their brand to deliver on their role as a strategic business adviser
- 65% say accountants need to stay ahead of the technological curve; and
- 66% say accountants need to update their accountancy software (though one wonders how clients know or why they would care much about what software their accountant is using)
- 65% express an immediate need for business advice and a further 31% anticipate a need for this in the near future; but only 35% consider their accountants to be strategic business advisers.
- 65% claim that they would ‘really value’ a business consulting service
- 62% believe that accountants need to introduce new offerings and strategic services to move to a valued adviser position.
The report then quotes accountants and highlights both where their views coincide with those of the business owners and also where they diverge. eg: 40% of accountants believe that their clients would be “sceptical” about paying for consultancy.
Another example of divergence is quite revealing. 63% of SMBs require a bookkeeping service but only 37% of accountants provide one. This struck me as odd. So I went back and noted that the survey of accountants’ views was limited to “100 owners and senior managers of accountancy firms with between five and 250 employees in the UK”. I’m sorry but that’s not a very representative sample. The vast majority of accountancy firms here are sole practitioners and have fewer than 5 employees.
So, whilst the survey responses of the owners of SMBs may well be representative of the majority of such businesses, the responses attributed to accountants only represent a small sub-set of the UK accountancy profession.
Do you agree? How close are the survey responses to the experiences of ‘most’ UK accountants?