I'm not a 'typical accountant'
What is an accountancy firm in 2020?
Accountants firms, businesses, and practices all mean the same thing. It is how an accountancy business is described. What does a modern professional accountant do and offer? How has the role changed in recent years? We explore that in this article.
Not a ‘typical’ accountants firm
This is something we hear from many accountants in the UK and indeed all around the world. The world is changing, there are no rules on how a professional in any industry should run their business or present themselves nowadays. Previously there has been an expectation, perception and perhaps an element dare I say it, of prestige to accounting as a professional. This is still the case to some extent, yet the fact that you do not even need to be a qualified accountant in the UK has certainly broken down some barriers. This is not a well-known fact among clients, our bet is that it would cause quite the stir if it was more commonly known.
Image of an accountancy firm
The typical image is in many ways similar to what you would expect from a solicitor and perhaps an IFA. A serious atmosphere, with leather chairs, mahogany desks, lack of any noise and lots of paperwork in the way of files! The owner or owners of the business are likely to be 55+ and to be a client-facing member of staff you must earn your stripes first.
The modern accountants
No formal dress code, the radio on, working from home arrangements, younger owners, a flatter organisational structure and an all-round more inviting and approachable mindset. Ok, so I may be talking about our business! We strongly believe that to provide a better service you need to look after your staff and provide them with a better work/life balance. This is illustrated recently by our reduced full-time working hours from 37.5 hours to 35 hours. Inspired in part from a recent study in Sweden. What also grabbed my attention was the fact that Germany works far fewer hours than the UK, yet are more productive.
I’d love to brag about Cheltenham Tax Accountants being unique and 10 years ahead of the curve but the truth is that there is a new breed of accountants racing through and making an impression with employees and clients alike.
Services an accountant provides
Rather intriguingly, the really big players in the industry including the big 4 have been way ahead of the cure when it comes to offering clients a wider range of services. The best example of this was when an employee of PWC was responsible for awarding the winner of the 2017 Oscars their deserved award, only to hand it to the wrong people!!! Yes, they looked foolish but this was not what I walked away with from that unique story. I am still scratching my head to figure out why the Oscars deem it necessary to hire one of the biggest accounting firms in the world to pretty much hand an envelope over. Congratulations to them I say! If there is a need for it from a customer then they can cater to it.
This has filtered down to medium and smaller firms alike, perhaps due to the threat of technology or maybe because we have taken 1o years to learn a thing or two from the big boys. Modern accounting firms still stay in their financial lane for the most part by offering services around forecasting, cashflow management, budgeting, management reporting, and key performance indicator analysis among other things. Yet there are fewer barriers and some accountants (including ourselves) now offer business planning, coaching, consulting, marketing planning and even core value workshops! The world has changed.
Good old tax planning and advice
Despite all of this, in our humble opinion, the client still cares most about the amount of tax he pays. Yes, it is fantastic and a huge added bonus if we can help a small business grow through increasing their profit, maximising turnover etc. Yet, this means nothing if we are not doing the ‘basics’ well first and foremost from accountants firms.
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Stephen Edwards is a business coach, accountant and consultant for accounting practices. Having started Cheltenham Tax Accountants from scratch in 2013 it now runs almost on auto-pilot leaving him with time to work on advisory related services for clients in the form of business coaching and also specialising with business automation and tech....