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The Accountancy Profession is (finally) now changing beyond recognition

This article was written for an accountancy firm who asked me to summarise the challenges in the market and subsequent opportunities for them - in one page. Have a read and see if you agree...

2019 has been the tipping point in my view. For the past 15 years I’ve been encouraging firms to become business advisers rather than compliance accountants, and as founder of The Corporate Finance Network (The CFN) I’ve provided regional firms with the practical tools, technical support and coaching to be able to do this as general practice advisors.


And now, in 2019, we see:

  1. Several consolidators attempting (again) to make a success of acquiring firms and challenging the Big 4

  2. The cloud and MTD ‘forcing’ firms to become advisors, rather than just accountants – but they typically don’t have the commercial skills to do this, no matter what apps or tech they use

  3. Smaller, younger accountancy firms, completely modern and nimble in their approach, are becoming more apparent in the market and continue to grow

  4. Fintechs, incubators, coaches, other business services firms and web forums/social media becoming competitors to accountants in the advisory space


Opportunities for accountancy firms

  • Firms need to learn how to ‘do advisory’ for the general practice to be able to manage this work technically, effectively and keep the work/relationships in-house. I estimate that less than 10% of qualified professional staff can actually fulfil the role of business advisors with their current skills. Moving along this spectrum rapidly will need to be a priority for all accountancy firms in the coming months & years;

  • In the UK’s owner managed business market of baby-boomers and Gen X, there is a critical need for some ‘proper’ exit planning and also to encourage younger and more ambitious OMBs to grow their business by acquisition. The demographics dictate that we find solutions to keep these solid, but possibly currently unsellable, businesses trading, or else we will face a dire situation with the employment statistics, as small businesses currently account for half of all private employment in this country;

  • The public profile of the profession and most accountancy firms need a radical overhaul if firms are to attract the GenY/Millennial clients (and staff) as well as the older GenX/babyboomer clients, when there is so much competition from other suppliers, and online solutions.

The Beyond 2020 Programme was developed to solve a lot of these challenges and make the most of these opportunities. Contact me to find out more details about how this programme could help your firm.



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