Originally posted on 30 Dec 2013

Earlier this month Intuit UK, the owner of the accounting software QuickBooks announced the results of an important study which affects every accountant with SME clients.

Many accountants are so focussed on “doing it, doing it” rather than having at least one eye on strategic changes that that they may not notice the important changes that are happening. Forgive the pun, do they have their heads in the cloud but with both eyes shut?

Intuit-Accounting-ConferenceThe study called: ‘The Changing Role of Accountancy’ revealed that 88% of UK small businesses expect their accountants to embrace cloud-based solutions and more than half (58%) are willing to pay more for the privilege.

The research highlighted that 40% of SMEs believe their accountants are far too traditional to move to the cloud and almost two thirds (72%) believe their accountants should update their software to the cloud. This includes being able to service their clients anytime, anywhere and on any device from laptop, tablet and smartphone.

This study has is a clear message to British accountants to embrace new technology and offer new services. Their clients expect this and many are increasingly looking for their accountants to drop the ‘number cruncher’ label and offer a more “Business Partnership” service by enabling the use of cloud tools.

Mike Williams, Head of Business, Intuit said: 62% of accountants don’t recognise the additional revenue opportunities associated with providing business-consulting advice, despite 95% of their customers willing to pay more”.

According to the survey nearly two thirds (65%) of small business owners expect their accountants to operate as strategic business advisors with 82% expecting their accountants to be more proactive in developing value added services.

The findings, announced at Intuit’s quarterly meeting of accountants, include:

·       The Technology Divide:88% of the two hundred small businesses interviewed believe that it is important for their accountants to embrace cloud-based technology or will soon expect them to do so. Unfortunately, only 61% of the one hundred accountants think their clients would like cloud-based accounting solutions, and an even smaller proportion (37 %) are offering these services already.

·       Adding Value:Of the small businesses questioned, 82% expect their accountants to be more proactive in developing value added services. This includes increasing their skills base (80%), modernising their brand (72%) and updating their accountancy software (69%). This would help them to move to the position of consultant or advisor. Encouragingly half of accountants agree that they need to strategically change their position in the market and 42% see the cloud enabling them to do this.

·       Revenue opportunities:The good news for accountancy firms is that nearly all small businesses surveyed are prepared to pay for the additional services they demand including business consulting advice (65%), project financing and reporting (72%). More than half (58%) of those surveyed would pay for cloud-based accounting solutions. But this is an opportunity that accountants aren’t capitalising on.

The Study:

The purpose of Intuit’s ‘Changing Role of Accountancy’ study was to establish a comprehensive set of insights to determine how the accountancy profession is changing against a backdrop of rapidly evolving technological advancements and heightened client expectations, specifically related to cloud based offerings.

For more information, view the full news story (dated 3 December) on Bizezia News at: http://bizezia.com/newsindex/index/12-2013-18

Martin Pollins

Managing Director at One Smart Place
Martin Pollins is a Chartered Accountant and MBA with wide experience in corporate finance and business management. He has served on the boards of several companies, including those listed on the London Stock Exchange, AIM and OFEX. He is Chairman and Founder of OneSmartPlace and was a Council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales from 1988 to 1996. He was managing partner of PRB Martin Pollins, based in Sussex, the first Accountancy firm to advertise on British television.He went on to create and launch the CharterGroup Partnership (the UK’s first Accountancy network) and then LawGroup UK (at the time, one of the largest networks of lawyers in the UK). In recent years, he helped to raise several £millions to fund British films such as The Da Vinci Code, Bridge of San Luis Rey, Head in the Clouds and Merchant of Venice with actors such as Charlize Theron, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, F. Murray Abraham. Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne, Geraldine Chaplin, Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, Audrey Tautou, Penélope Cruz, Steven Berkoff, Lynn Collins, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes and many more.

He has written over 700 business publications (see Glossaries at http://onesmartplace.com/resources/glossaries/) and is editor of Better Business Focus (see http://onesmartplace.com/resources/better-business-focus-magazine). His Blog, on a wide range of subjects can be found at: http://onesmartplace.com/blog/
Martin Pollins

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