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2023 trends: Managing your practice

4th Jan 2023
Brought to you by
BrightManager logo

Award winning CRM & practice management software

Save content
Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

If the last few years are anything to go by, we all know that you can’t predict much. But based on the hundreds of conversations we had with accountants, bookkeepers, software partners and industry thought leaders last year, we can form a pretty solid list of trends to watch out for in 2023. 

Where’s digital transformation? 

We’re not including digital transformation as a trend – because it’s 2023. Although MTD for ITSA has been postponed (well done if you predicted that), the digital revolution is already well underway.  

Technology is a crucial factor in each of these five trends, whether you’re an established practice or a start-up, a one-person-band or a muti-office empire.  

accounting trends 2023

1. Pricing and profitability take priority  

As we enter 2023, inflation and rising costs continue to batter micro, small and medium businesses. As such, one of the top trends (and New Year's resolutions) for all businesses in 2023 will be to prioritise profitability and pricing. 

You may be helping your clients look at their margins to see where they can increase prices. Or you may be giving the odd pep talk, encouraging clients to be brave and charge more or go after slightly different customers. The question is – are you listening to your own advice for your business? 

Start by believing your hype 

In our Summer Session on pricing, we talked about self worth. So instead of wondering ‘can I charge this price?’ ask yourself whether there’s something deeper you need to overcome first. Only by truly valuing your experience, knowledge – and the difference you make to your clients – can you start repricing. (And a little proof goes a long way too, so collect examples as you go.)  

Keep track of profitability to inform pricing 

If you want to add and price a new service or see whether your current prices are a fair reflection of the work completed, you can use AccountancyManager to track time spent on each client. This means you can work out the profitability of each client and get better control over costs.  

When losing 25% of clients increases turnover 

When AM user Shahood Ahmed started AudTax Accountants & Tax Consultants, he tried to be the cheapest accountant in the area to get more clients. After two years he realised it wasn’t sustainable – there wouldn’t be enough profit to pay his staff. 

Then Shahood read ‘Selling to Serve’ by James Ashford (founder of GoProposal) and it changed his mindset entirely. “I started repricing all clients and I think we lost about 20, 25% but we managed to increase our turnover with the remaining clients.” 

2. Hybrid working is here to stay  

If you scan the headlines – like this one – you might think everyone’s still in their pajamas. If you’re commuting, it’s clear by the return of rush hour – they’re not.  

Let the Office of National Statistics put things straight

Before the pandemic, there was a gradual increase in people working from home. In 2019, around 12% of the UK workforce was working at least one day at home (5% of those working mainly from home). 

Of course, the pandemic changed this dramatically. In June 2020, remote and hybrid working reached a momentous peak of 49% of workers working at least one day a week from home – 38% of which were working exclusively from home. 

By September 2022, these numbers had decreased considerably, but remained higher than pre-pandemic numbers – effectively doubling. 22% of the GB workforce had worked at least one day from home in the previous week and around 13% worked from home exclusively.  

If your staff enjoy the flexibility of working between home and the office – and it doesn’t create any disruption to client service – then the benefits of hybrid working can be numerous.  

Keep everyone on the same page – wherever they are  

Rachel, co-owner of striveX, has introduced a fully flexible hybrid working environment. “Going into the pandemic with AccountancyManager – a completely cloud-based task management system – meant that we could still scale, while some practices were firefighting. We had all tasks at hand and could support the clients that needed it with no disruption.” 

“We’re completely hybrid now – but on Tuesdays we get everybody in the team together to eat cake, do charity work and celebrate achievements… that’s hugely valuable. Outside that, it’s completely flexible.” 

For Aaron Patrick, owner of Boffix, hybrid working is all in the communication. “We can still have great communication, but we've got the opportunity to be remote, because we've got software we can log into anywhere.” 

“We’ve found that the ‘Urgent Notes’ in AccountancyManager have become the lifeblood of our business. In daily meetings we all go down that urgent list. Something as simple as that, allows us to communicate with a remote team that: ‘Look, this is really critical’.” 

3. Mental health continues emerging from the shadows 

The stigma around mental health is slowly lifting but we’ve a long way to go before it’s as normal as discussing physical health.  

As a business owner you have the mental wellbeing of your employees to consider as well as your own. And as an accountant your clients may well rely on you for emotional support in tough times too – like the current recession.  

That’s a lot for one person’s shoulders, especially if you’re facing a challenging workload or other external stressors.  

Help yourself before you can help other people 

When you feel at your best, ideas flow, you can concentrate better, think more clearly and get more done. But feeling your best isn’t a switch that can be turned on at will. If you’re not feeling good, put your oxygen mask on first. Only then can you be there for your team and clients.  

Train your brain – when you feel good 

A healthy mind needs training just like a healthy body and the best time to exercise and strengthen your mind is when you feel good. Our brains love patterns and they get stuck on them. So rewrite the negative patterns with positive ones. Practice things like gratitude – naming 3 things you’re grateful for as you fall asleep – it sounds small and silly, but with practice your patterns can get brighter.

If staff are stressed or having a difficult time, they won’t be able to deliver that service. Nothing is more important than treating staff right.” - AM user 

Listening and understanding are huge for your team 

When people are going through a hard time, it may be difficult for them to open up – especially to someone at work. But being open to these conversations and actively listening will go a long way.  

Being able to tell your boss that you need time off because of your anxiety, depression, stress or other mental health struggles – and knowing that they understand – makes a huge difference to those that face these challenges. 

How AM can help you  

When your practice uses practice management software, you can see every staff member’s current and upcoming tasks at a glance. If one of your team is struggling with their workload or needs time off, you can instantly identify the biggest issues and/or reallocate work.  

We’re not saying AccountancyManager prevents burnout and stress, but it can certainly play an important part – as this user reports: “AccountancyManager is very, very good at flagging urgent versus important. There's a really cool traffic light system to tell the guys, ‘this is the work that's available to start,’ ‘this is the work that's not available to start – you need to chase’. And: ‘out of the work that you can start, this is how close you are to your deadlines.’” 

“We've found this really helps staff to maintain positive wellbeing. They feel in control of their tasks and motivated and supported by us, but they also get that empowerment of being able to do things themselves.” 

A few ideas from our users 

  • Employee assistance program – giving staff access to counseling, therapy, financial and legal guidance.  
  • Contributing to personal development – adding an amount to staff salaries each month to pay for gym membership, creative pursuits or non-work related courses. 
  • Volunteering and charity work – as well as purpose in the office, people need purpose in life. Paid days off to volunteer, share skills or raise money is much more than a policy.  
  • Mental health buddies – so everyone has someone at work they can go to when they need them. 

4. Empowering your people 

Working somewhere that empowers you is a concept that branches across workplace culture, leadership approaches, professional and career development, recruitment and retention, diversity and inclusion – even mental health. It’s almost like empowerment might be the key... 

Give rookie accountants more autonomy and responsibility 

People want to feel like they’re making a difference at work – for their clients, their colleagues and their business. If they do, they’ll stick around longer and do their best work. So make sure you’re pushing every member of the team to reach their potential by giving them what they need – and stepping back.  

AccountancyManager allows you to mentor rather than micromanage. New and junior accounting staff can take on more responsibility with carefully templated tasks guiding them through jobs. You can build in check-in points where you can review their work and you can keep an eye on their progress from a distance.  

Give all the admin to non-accountants (all of it)

Sarah and Leigh Coombs own IT All Figures. Leigh met Sarah when he was the chief information officer for a public company and Sarah, the financial controller and internal accountant. AccountancyManager is helping Leigh focus on his areas of expertise – business management and technology. While Sarah concentrates on her accountancy tasks.

“I've been able to onboard clients easily,” says Leigh. “Leaving Sarah to do the work that’s appropriate for her level of qualification and skills. Then we've got the task list, which manages our priorities so that we don't forget any deadlines. I'm able to manage tasks and that would've been something that only Sarah could do before.” 

You've started sleeping now, haven't you? Which is quite good.” - Leigh Coombs

“For me,” adds Sarah, “It's the task list, making sure I can prioritise all these returns in a certain time frame and make sure I've got the time available. Before, I wasn't able to do that and make sure I’ve chased records at the right time. The automated emails and record chasing has taken manual intervention out of the equation.”  

Foster an inclusive and receptive culture

Workplace culture hasn’t meant ‘going for a few drinks on a Friday’ since the (late) 90s. Culture is the shared workplace beliefs and the daily behaviour of everyone at your practice. This – as we all know – trickles down from leadership.

For example, everyone is always learning, whether it’s studying for exams, using technology, understanding new legislation or gaining business management skills. Fostering an environment where knowledge can flow from any level, background or hierarchical direction is just one way of making everyone feel heard and respected.  

5. Preparing for MTD ITSA (in less of a panic) 

Thanks to HMRC delivering an early Christmas ‘present’ on the 19th December, you now have three years before MTD for ITSA lands.

HMRC’s Jim Harra says, “a phased approach to mandating MTD for Income Tax will allow us to work together with our partners to make sure that our self-employed and landlord customers can make the most of the opportunities this will bring.”

Highlights from HMRC’s announcement:

The mandatory use of software is being phased in from April 2026, rather than April 2024. 

From April 2026, HMRC will require self-employed people and landlords with an income of over £50,000 to keep digital records and provide quarterly updates through MTD-compatible software. 

From April 2027, this will apply to those with an income of between £30,000 and £50,000. 

Most people will be able to join voluntarily beforehand meaning they can eliminate common errors and save time managing their tax affairs. 

The government has also announced a review into the needs of smaller businesses, and particularly those under the £30,000 income threshold. 

What do you do now? Keep going. 

To be honest, when we were banging on about segmenting your clients, starting conversations and encouraging them to keep digital records, the 18 months you had seemed a little tight.  

With three years to play with, you can stick to your preparation plans and properly embed your processes.  

MTD ITSA demands that your clients change both their behaviour and their mindset when it comes to keeping their records. And that takes time. The only way to make the change – and make it stick – is practice.  

Got questions? Grill your software providers 

If you use the likes of BTCSoftware (part of the Bright family), Xero, Sage, QuickBooks and FreeAgent, you have MTD ITSA experts on the end of the phone. They’ve been working to make their systems MTD ITSA-compatible throughout 2022.  

Start optimising your workflow  

If your questions are more in the ‘how on earth can we manage with the workload’ vein, give AccountancyManager a call. We’ve also been busy rebuilding our task management into a full-blown workflow. Now you can break tasks into subtasks and share jobs seamlessly across the practice. 

Lean on automation 

You might be considering hiring more staff to spread the MTD load – which is a great idea especially if you’re using MTD as an opportunity to offer more advisory services on top. Just make sure you’re not hiring people to do the grunt work. AccountancyManager exists to do that for you – automatically generating tasks, chasing clients for records and keeping track of progress, missing details and hold-ups at every stage. 

Just start doing it anyway 

People that use AccountancyManager often end up ignoring deadlines like the 31st January because they’ve done all their self assessments already (using target dates to set internal deadlines). So why not ignore 2026? Getting your clients to keep digital records – as their incomings and outgoings happen – just makes sense… it’s 2023.

Talk to AccountancyManager about your New Year’s resolutions 

Are you planning on growing your business this year? Are you welcoming new team members? Restructuring your workflow? Reviewing your pricing or introducing new services? Trying to keep on top of an increasing workload and new government announcements? Join one of our upcoming demos to find out how our practice management software can help. 

Book a demo

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