Australian accountancy firms are often held as more progressive than UK firms. Having experienced both markets, Trent McLaren disagrees.
Since arriving in the UK last month, I’ve heard and read how unprogressive UK accounting firms are. But I don’t agree. UK firms have scope to be as innovative, if not more, than both Australia and US accountants over the next couple of years.
The data tells a different story
The perceived lag starts with the data used to measure the growth of cloud accounting software licenses per region as a percentage vs the number of small businesses incorporated in that country.
Based on the 5.7m companies registered in the UK (of which around 2.5m are trading entities) I would hazard a guess that the UK cloud accounting penetration or adoption rate is around 14% - 18%. This means over 770,000 registered companies use a piece of cloud accounting software to manage their financials.
In Australia, this number is closer to 45% - 50%, with 2.1m registered companies and just under 1m companies using cloud accounting.
Typically you would assume that there are more accountants in Australia on average using cloud accounting in their firm, which then leads you to believe that they are using a range of apps and add-on solutions to extend that functionality.
Whilst the numbers as a percentage would suggest Australia as a country is further along the curve, I would argue that there’s roughly the same amount of accountants and nearly the same amount of registered companies using cloud accounting in both markets (770,000 in the UK, compared to less than one million in Australia).
UK has a big opportunity
It’s just that the UK has a bigger opportunity to have a larger number of accountants and small businesses using this technology; therefore, their overall adoption rate is much lower, for now.
From first-hand experience, there are accountants in both countries that are just as progressive as each other. They have a strong focus on delivering better client outcomes, better team environments using the right mix of technology and process to deliver on these outcomes.
This is the story we don’t hear enough about in the UK. Raedon, Soaring Falcon, Kinder Pocock, Gascoynes or The Wow Company are all shining examples of digital lead accounting firms that made choices to focus on providing the best client and team outcomes.
Your choices determine your future
It’s not your country or the amount of cloud accounting subscriptions sold in your region that determine how progressive your business is or will be. It’s the choices you’ve made for your clients, your team and your infrastructure.
Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote “We are our choices”. In the context of the accounting industry, your firm and everything it represents is a result of the choices you make – whether that was 10 years ago, last week or anytime in the future. Your choices determine what makes you successful but also whatever is holding you back.
When evaluating the health of your firm consider your choices that have directly affected:
- Your clients, the ones you love and the ones you like least
- Your team and the environment you’ve created for them
- Your technology and the processes that you’ve built around it
If you’re unhappy with any of these three elements, remember your current situation is based on past choices but it doesn’t need to represent your future.
If you decide not to invest in team training or giving someone more responsibility, then you would be surprised when you have a toxic culture or a business that nobody wants to work in or buy from you one day. Every result whether good or bad determines the make-up and mix of your firm.
The same could be said about the technology you’re using in your firm. If you’re using outdated technology then there’s a good chance you’re giving outdated advice, which isn’t helpful to a business owner that needs all of their information today. Not in a month, or 3 months – today.
What really matters?
But are we really concerned about which country is deemed more progressive? Is there a trophy or an award I’m not aware of? Who cares?
Is it your goal to be a progressive firm? No. Your goal should be to empower your clients to give them better visibility over their financials, to help them make better decisions and ensure they’re compliant.
You can be the difference between a business that can go bankrupt or survive for over 20 years, which will feed families and employ staff in your community. It’s in your best interest to make the best choices for your team and your clients to keep this cycle thriving.
About Trent McLaren
Winner - AccountantDaily Thought Leader Of The Year for 2017
I lead a team of spirited people looking to make a difference in the accounting industry as we know it. Elimination of debtors, automated invoicing and the thought of never having to touch your firm's billing again is a reality we deliver to accounting firms all over the world.
I believe that in order to achieve your goals, you must be a leader and a believer. Your peers need to feel part of something real and exciting in order to succeed. Turning up to work is just not enough.
I believe in creating a positive environment that stimulates and motivates people. An environment that allows people to grow, develop and most importantly enjoy their work.
I am the head of accounting at Practice Ignition, a Sydney based start-up born out of an accounting firm, Interactive Accounting. We eliminate debtors and automate your invoicing through our digital proposal and engagement letter builder solution. We service 1000's of accounting firms around the world including the United Kingdom.
In prior roles I have extensive history with Intuit QuickBooks, Xero, eWAY (online payments) as well as the retail sectors.