Every couple of years our Accountants’ team undertakes our Pulse research, which is an in-depth study to understand the current and most important issues impacting the accountancy profession.
Exploring the relationship between businesses and Accountants in Practice, Pulse aims to identify how both can work together more effectively. Providing insights into how the skill-sets of accountants are evolving and the accountancy needs of businesses are changing, the study looks at opportunities for practice growth and explores the impact of technology in changing behaviours.
It’s also used as a starting point for discussion and debate with customers and partners, and clearly in this instance it has struck a chord.
The key take away from this year’s research is that the role of the accountant is changing, and at a pace that we’ve not seen before.
And, it was equally clear that there will always be an opportunity for quality accountants to really add value to their clients. Whether that’s through business advice or additional services the fact remains that for business owners, accountants remain the first port of call for guidance and the most trusted of advisors. And from that perspective experience is priceless.
The research highlighted the importance of technology in shaping the profession according to 60% of the AiP surveyed. The move towards more connected accounting through greater use of mobile devices and online technologies is leading to clients expecting more support outside of the traditional 9-5 working hours and accountants needing to be more flexible as a result.
The Pulse research also revealed that clients now expect a prompt response to their enquiries and access to information whenever they need it, with online (50%) being the most popular method for business owners wanting to share data with their accountant for the first time.
The story isn’t about age – it’s about the increasing prevalence of the social media savvy, connected accountant. While clearly there are some fantastic examples of accountants today who are leading the way in this area, it’s equally clear that the generation that grew up with Facebook and gmail and is used to saving their valuable music collection on iTunes or Spotify will know no different. As a result, just as the forward thinkers today are breaking new ground, we expect them to do the same.
We certainly don’t think that leading this tech revolution is the place for ‘Gen Y’ only – there are many well established professionals in this industry who have worked this way for some time now and led the way in terms of changing the industry and the way it operates. 80% of you already believe that you will use more services online over the next 3-5 years, and 17% of you already communicate with your clients via social media.
When we carry out research like this, we always give our opinion on it. However, it’s vital that we debate and listen, something we’ve been doing this afternoon as it’s certainly caused some discussion on Twitter.
Please carry on the discussion, we’re really interested to hear your thoughts and make sure we take them into account to help further our thinking on the direction of the industry.