by Paul Tooth, co-founder and CEO, BrightHR
Across most industries, clients are the backbone of our businesses, and it’s important that in order to retain and go the extra mile for, the services we offer are aligned with changes in the workplace such as changing technology, compliance and complex processes.
At BrightHR, we wanted to find out exactly why and how accountants are increasing their service offerings for clients, so we conducted an independent survey of 100 accountants who told us that they were under pressure to do exactly this.
According to our ‘A Future that Works’ research report, this pressure is coming from both the demands of clients and the need to stay ahead of the competition. Interestingly, nearly one third of accountancy business owners claimed that pressure from competitors was the main force driving the need to diversify.
The most popular services that accountants were looking to offer to clients were HR services or tools, followed by recruitment services, and management consultancy services to help effectively manage their businesses better. London based accountants are leading the trend - with nearly three quarters considering HR tools as the best way to diversify their business.
It was exciting to see that with accountants looking to offer these services, they also reported being open to this change, as just under half of our accountants agreed that time saving HR tech could improve profits for their clients. Those with the greatest business insight - such as directors and business owners - backed ‘on the go’ tech the most. More than 50 per cent said they saw the benefits of managing their teams on the go, showing a clear interest in ‘business solution’ mobile apps.
Absenteeism, employment law and HR issues are something businesses shouldn’t overlook as they can have a direct impact on engagement, productivity and ultimately, the bottom line.
From what we see in our independent research, there is clearly a demand for services that simplify, explain and apply day to day business tasks that will benefit the business of clients and of accountants themselves.
From this we know that technology could be the answer in terms of offering services that clients may not think they need to free up their time, and ultimately providing you both with more time to develop your working relationship.
Previously, our ‘A Future that Works’ report discussed how of the ‘100 jobs of the future’, accountancy is one of the most likely to become automated and robotised. This suggests that close client relationships will become even more essential - nearly 40 per cent of accountants still believe being a ‘trusted advisor’ is essential when it comes to retaining clients.
Interestingly the ‘tech’ generation - millennials - were the most likely to respect good client relationships, with 67 per cent of 16-24 year-old accountants surveyed claiming it was ‘crucial’ to form excellent relationships with clients.
The reality of an automated future is that accountants will need to offer more than just a personal touch, they will need a wealth of ‘trusted’ knowledge across a variety of business subjects. The future workplace is one where accountants are listening to what their clients need, nurturing those professional relationships whilst building on their own professional service offering.