The accountancy industry and the challenges ahead
23rd August 2019
I’ve recently commented on Caunce O’Hara’s historic and current working relationships with the accountancy profession and it is clear that for all professions change is on the horizon in one form or another, principally in terms of advancing technology.
Tolley, one the UK’s providers of critical tax information, in-depth reference, training and learning resources has recently produced the Tolley Industry Report 2019 which questions a cross section of the profession on challenges facing their industry.
The majority of respondents fall into the sole practitioner or single office partnership profile with the majority being owners or partners. The majority (59%) fall into the 45 to 64 age-bracket.
What are the main concerns for the Accountancy industry?
Last year the big concerns for the accountancy profession centred upon GDPR and anti-money laundering with migration of business to electronic delivery being high on the list of many. Regulation, Making Tax Digital and general electronic delivery of services are today’s hot topics in an ever-changing sector.
Almost half of respondents cited technology, cloud-based software and client facing apps as positives but in equal measure saw them as challenges in terms of implementation, cost and possible disruptors to working practices.
Over half the respondents felt that spend on technology would increase with most believing it was crucial to ensure client satisfaction.
The top three areas that respondents are planning on increasing their focus on in the next year are:
- the automation of tax information
- embracing new technologies
- navigating increasingly complex regulation.
In carrying out the first two it will enable practitioners to undertake the third without seeing a detrimental impact on their work-life balance. Quality of life and work satisfaction scored highly as” important” by many.
A realistic picture of the industry
Whilst the report is only a snapshot of the accountancy professions’ thoughts and feedback the range and depth of responses received by Tolley means that they believe it is a realistic picture of the state of the industry. It concludes the following:
- Business in general terms is thriving and the demand for tax services shows no sign of decreasing.
- With MTD and other developments accountancy and tax professionals still see the need for advice.
- High street practices will face two key pressures – IT and cloud based means there will be no space for the traditional “brown paper bag” approach to accounts preparation. Further, the growth of niche consulting firms that are IT led with lower fees will challenge the traditionalists.
- Whilst automation will advance and be here to stay it will not be a complete substitute for face-to-face and the overall need for all parties (taxpayers, advisers and HMRC) to work efficiently and in a fair way for all.
Aside from the Tolley Industry Report 2019, the challenges surrounding IR35 and general taxpayer status will keep the profession busy for the next couple of years.
It is clear the accountancy profession is having to adapt to technology changes, like other professions, and it will be challenging for the reasons already noted.
One major issue for the profession is to ensure that clients adapt the way they document their business records and deliver them on time.
It is still the case that some clients miss the 31st January deadline, even though self-assessment has been in place for some 23 years.
How Caunce O’Hara & Co Ltd add value to the Accountancy industry
Accountants are well placed to advise clients (especially new start-ups) on a multitude of matters, including:
- Business planning
- Sales forecasting
- Banking options
- Accounting software
- Tax returns… and much more.
Business insurance is often mentioned in conversation as employers’ liability insurance is required by law for most companies.
While some accountants aren’t authorised or regulated to give insurance advice, it is very common for them to ask clients to take advice from insurance brokers they trust.
Having appropriate business insurance in place can enable a business to survive a worst-case scenario, such as a fire, flood or a major theft of stock or other assets, or even a cyber-attack.
Caunce O’Hara provides invaluable assistance to the accountancy profession by being a ‘port of call’ for advice on suitable business insurance policies for companies of all sizes in a wide range of business activities.
Over the years Caunce O’Hara has helped many clients of accountants. The activities of those businesses varied enormously, but our specific expertise in insuring IT businesses, professional practices, logistics and supply chain operators, recruitment agencies and umbrella and payroll companies has added value on countless occasions.
Working together for success
Caunce O’Hara has an established, UK-wide network of business contacts, many being accountants. Firms can refer clients to us whether those clients are freelancers, sole traders, SMEs or large corporates via our Partner Program.Get In Touch