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What's the next big niche in accountancy?

Philip Fisher focuses on a new niche for the profession, a good opportunity for those willing to invest a bit of time and effort.

30th Jan 2020
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Every accountant knows that the best way to grow a practice is to find a special niche ahead of the competition. When it works, you can get very rich, very quickly. The biggest problem usually comes in identifying something a little bit different and getting in before everyone else.

After that, if you have got the ultimate winner, the key is becoming an expert quickly and getting the message about that expertise out to the world.

So what's the next big niche?

The next big thing must surely be advice on the operation and payment of tariffs, quite possibly with chances to discover avoidance loopholes in swiftly and badly drafted legislation.

As we all know, the United Kingdom is taking the first step towards leaving Europe on Friday. Our politicians seem to think that they can then negotiate firm trading agreements with every country in the world by the end of the year. This is pie in the sky.

In reality, at the end of the year, if Mr Johnson is unwilling to extend his deadline, we will be facing tariffs on a wide variety of goods and, as a quid pro quo, we will presumably also charge tariffs to overseas suppliers trying to sell goods to consumers in the UK.

To make matters worse, President Tariff of the United States seems to delight in imposing trumps on anything that moves. You can bet his bottom dollar that when he starts negotiating a trade deal with the UK, this will be very close to the top of the agenda.

Then we come to Europe, where instead of having a widespread exemption, we could theoretically be trying to negotiate individual arrangements with up to 27 separate countries.

The rest of the world will also be an issue since the UK has generally been dealing with countries under Europe-wide agreements.

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that nobody in this country knows anything about tariffs. In the vast majority of cases, goods are tariff-free and therefore we have never needed to consider the topic.

What all of this means is that our clients and those of our competitors will be faced with fresh problems arising from brand-new legislation, which nobody will understand any better than you. As a result, there is a golden opportunity for your practice to appoint one or more “experts”, who are charged with reading the legislation, getting some kind of an understanding and then cornering the market.

There might be an added bonus. We have no idea what is going to happen to VAT but it seems unlikely that it will be abolished. Whether the government chooses to mirror the European version or create something new remains to be seen.

This could offer a similar opportunity. Alternatively, there is a possibility that some VAT experts may throw in the towel, in which case they could be perfectly placed to convert to tariffs duties (sorry about the pun).

You heard it here first.

Replies (3)

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By carnmores
30th Jan 2020 14:37

God forbid

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By johnhemming
01st Feb 2020 19:56

The point about the EU is that we negotiate with the EU not the individual countries.

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Hallerud at Easter
03rd Feb 2020 17:44

It is back to my apprenticeship days on the Broadmeadows Industrial Estate, Dumbarton, during 1986 and 1987 ,as part of a team auditing a kitchen manufacturer- off from the accounts department with its busy ledger clerks, payroll staff, cashroom team and the FD's office, was a little , smoke infested, room where the Imports Manager and his Assistant performed their paperwork magic shrouded in Capstans or Players. (whilst we looked at their paperwork as part of the audit testing I do not actually remember tariffs/import taxes, just advance vat and lots of paper.)

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