Look like an accountancy practice, act like a business

Unsurprisingly, most accountants run their practice the way they have seen other practices run.

Look like an accountancy practice, act like a business

Unsurprisingly, most accountants run their practice the way they have seen other practices run. However, with the current challenging economic landscape and mounting pressure from all sides, this traditional way of working may no longer be best. The majority of accountancy practices are facing issues around talent, stagnation of growth, and client survival. Indeed, recent research shows a 36% drop in applications to firms between June 2021 and June 2022. Now more than ever, a new strategy and outlook could make all the difference.  

Long gone are the days of a traditional high street accountancy practice in every town. Business clients now have the luxury of not being tied down to their local accountant. To avoid both losing existing clients and missing out on new ones, now is the time to consider running accountancy practices like a business.

Before embarking on this change, accountants need to have the necessary headspace and work capacity to commit to it. Technology can help accountants reclaim their time and move to focus on the projects and services that need it most. 

Technology, the time liberator

Accountants work extremely hard and traditionally have little time to spare, especially to undergo big cultural changes to their own working methods. However, the recent increases in remote technological adoption, due to the pandemic and Making Tax Digital (MTD), have seen a rise in automation. This has helped offload some of the work pressure by automating more repetitive administrative and compliance-related processes. As well as increasing efficiency and reducing human error, by feeding data into the system and helping it learn to process information more accurately. 

Leveraging technology like this, accountants can use their time for larger, more important tasks that cannot be automated. Both AI and automation are essential time liberators enabled through technology, but it is only the skilled accountant who can drive forward the change in mindset to that of a business. 

Practice as a business 

Accountancy practices need to take a step back and re-evaluate how they are running their firm while simultaneously reflecting on what makes other businesses so successful. Often, one business’ success presents another’s with an opportunity to learn. This may mean going back to the proverbial drawing board and looking at aspects such as branding, sales or customer experience design and asking questions such as: ‘how do we win and retain clients?’, ‘how do we create a customer journey?’ and ‘where are our customers going to be next year? In five years?’. 

The key is to focus on what can be learnt from other businesses, while enhancing your own existing strengths; blending both to create a model with efficiency and customer awareness at its core. Accountants and practice leaders need to be willing and have the capacity to effectively plan out what they are trying to create. Practice owners need to apply some of their processes, workflows and experiences to the design of their business and let it flourish outside of their subconscious. 

The current accountancy practice working model may no longer be fit for purpose to drive the business forward. Before accountancy practice owners can look to make needed changes, they need to reclaim some of their time, by using technology to help automate and streamline existing work processes. Only then can they start planning how to change their practice for the better, and incorporate the beneficial aspects of a modern business, to act like a business but look like an accountancy firm. 

Jim Scott
Jim Scott

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