The accounting firm of the future
There are all sorts of marketing support and discussion forums available for those in the accountancy profession. I have read in multiple places recently about the changes taking place in the industry, the likely impact of Making Tax Digital (the move by HMRC to quarterly tax returns) and the fact that the firm of the future is one that adds value to clients, using their position as trusted adviser to help clients improve business performance by interacting in a regular and structured way.Often these discussions focus on the adoption of cloud based systems as the basis of the change.
In my experience, whilst the rhetoric makes sense, the reality is that the majority of accountants show no interest whatsoever in adding value in that way and just because they use a cloud based system it in no way guarantees anything other than a more intuitive system to capture your data.
What I observe they will do instead is a combination of the following:
- Keep you compliant, filing returns on time.
- Minimise your tax bill through their knowledge and expertise
- Open up the possibilities of cloud based systems
- Advise on performance when reviewing accounts
- Advise on associated areas such as auto enrolment
All of these are perfectly worthy activities and I am not saying this is a bad service at all - everything has its place. But where I struggle is when it is delivered in conjunction with language that talks about being different, providing a more proactive service than other accountants. But is it? Really? Well there are always a range of services and competence available but what all of the above doesn't tackle are questions like:
Have you got your pricing right?
Which areas of your business deliver the greatest value?
Are you managing your cost base effectively?
What are your plans for the future?
What do you need to focus on?
What metrics do you need to review to ensure success?
And herein lies the difference between properly proactive financial management support and the provision of standard accounting services however good that level of service is. There is value in the latter but the real value, I believe is in proactive financial management from a suitably qualified (by experience) professional.
When was the last conversation you had with your accountant that they instigated? Was it when your accounts or tax return were due? Do you think you and your business deserves better? As the Americans say “you do the math.”