Accountancy firms and the clients they serve operate in a rapidly changing world. Is your firm future-fit? Does it keep pace in today’s complex operating environment or are you constantly playing catch-up?
Over the next few weeks, we are looking at what it means to be a future-fit accountant and building a practice fit for future changes.
Here are three trends with the potential to affect your business directly. While you may have little or no control over these developments, being aware of them and becoming more adaptable as a business will better position you to react quickly to changing conditions.
Remember the cautionary tale of the frog that perishes because it doesn’t notice gradual changes in its surroundings? Don’t let your firm be similarly oblivious of the changes taking place in the world around your practice.
Evolving regulatory framework
Making Tax Digital for VAT is only the first step in a planned wide-ranging transformation. As momentum grows, how can you anticipate future developments and be ready for any fresh HMRC initiatives? These are important questions to keep front of mind.
More broadly, new economic policies will no doubt affect many of your clients as Brexit finally takes shape. The food & drink industry, which includes thousands of SMEs, is just one of many making representations to the government on the potential impact of non-alignment with EU trade rules.
Client expectations are rising
Clients want to pay for value delivered, rather than hours worked. They want easy access to expertise and not just an annual review meeting. Client service has always been at the heart of any successful firm, but now the relationship needs to be more collaborative and data-driven to reveal insights into the client’s business. They look to you, their adviser, for expert support in these challenging times.
According to our customer McPhersons Chartered Accountants: “Accountancy today is about providing real-time information and looking to the future of the client’s business; not giving a historical view of past performance.”
Of course, price is always a factor – perhaps even more so now, with many client businesses feeling the squeeze. Working as efficiently as possible through automation helps Wolters Kluwer customer JSP Accountants to contain rising costs and retain clients: “Although we like to think we have a loyal client base, they do shop around, so it’s up to us to minimise the time spent on a job and control our costs in order to offer an affordable service.”
Shifting competitive landscape
Nimble accountancy start-ups are overturning established working practices and chipping away at your client base. Online communication and collaboration are replacing traditional client meetings. Distance is no object for these new kids on the block: working electronically, they can spread their net nationwide and may well have your clients in their sights. Furthermore, they understand the power of social media to cost-effectively build their brand and connect with young entrepreneurs.
How can you stay competitive and attract a new generation of clients to counteract churn as loyal clients retire?
Watch this space for the next instalment of our future-fit accountant series, looking at how technology can help you to respond to and manage disruptive change.