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Daffodils herald a new spring of optimism

The spirit of Accounting Excellence


As the clocks go forward and the daffodils bloom, the entries start arriving on our desks for this year’s Accounting Excellence Awards.

31st Mar 2022
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Nothing speaks to me more of the coming of spring than a new crop of entries for the Accounting Excellence Awards.

A look in the award in-tray so far reveals that 278 firms and individuals have started their entries and 44 have already been completed in AccountingWEB’s annual programme for practice improvement. It’s great to see so many accountants joining this initiative, but don’t be put off by the numbers – you and your firm could be taking part too. Entries are open until 15 April.

The judge’s view

Like many of my fellow judges, I really look forward to seeing your entries. By documenting their efforts and activities over the past year, accountancy’s leading practitioners give us unique insights into life on the front line.

The judging process gives us so many glimpses of emerging trends and ideas within the profession. Taken as a whole, your responses build up a comprehensive picture of generational and behavioural shifts across the whole profession. 

The least surprising side effect of the pandemic was widespread adoption of remote working, which has now become the norm. Less predictable, however, was how the focus on staff wellbeing and culture intensified alongside the hybrid working trend. Pre-Covid, such initiatives were the preserve of larger and more progressive entrants (mentioned by 15% of firms in 2019). But other entrants have been paying attention. Almost with a single voice, they make the point that if they want to retain the people they need to keep growing, they need to show the love and truly appreciate and develop their teams.

We set out to acknowledge this trend with the addition in 2019 of a new Investors in People award. This year’s crop of entries should tell us what enlightened practices are doing now to motivate their people and counteract any urges to look elsewhere.

We all learn from the best

It’s fascinating to observe this cascade effect, where innovations of a year or two ago flow through to the mainstream of other entries. The Accounting Excellence community is certainly quick on the uptake, which generates an interesting challenge for the pioneers of previous years

Sometimes when judging we will come across an entry that seems strangely familiar, as though we may have read the same words before – a sign perhaps that a previous finalist is sitting back on their laurels after a period of success.

But we also come across entries from well-known Accounting Excellence practices that aren’t standing still, for example those that shepherded their existing clients through the worst of the pandemic and added new ones along the way. This year, the really progressive contenders are still adding new tools and services to their portfolios and becoming a lot more structured in their approaches to staff welfare and development.

Sometimes we spot a real gem of an initiative in an entry from a firm that doesn’t make the final cut in their category – for example by helping managers of a division marked for closure to execute a buy-out, and supporting the new entity with outsourced finance services. To give wider attention to individual stories like this, we added a new Client Transformation category this year. Would one of your successful client projects fit the bill and carry you through to the final in September? You know where and how to tell us more.

Fallow years

Some readers may have read articles or heard me mention over the past few years how MTD and the pandemic hampered practice innovation during 2017–21. Firms have been in crisis and survival mode for so long that many don’t have the time, resources or mental energy to innovate or streamline anything beyond the absolute essentials.

Yet even against this backdrop, the best performing firms still look for incremental improvements, whether by refining their in-house knowledge management mechanisms or devising new ways to communicate with and support their clients. To me, these firms epitomise how Accounting Excellence isn’t a one-off sprint, it’s a permanent quest to continually improve and evolve.

Why not show us how accounting innovation is still alive within your practice in 2022? 

Start your entry now!

Thank you to 2022 Accounting Excellence Awards partners

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