Receipt Bank commissioned Censuswide to survey 920 accountants and bookkeepers across eight countries (Australia, France, Germany, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands, the UK and the USA). Key findings are below.
The state of practices
Globally, 90% of accounting firms work in small and medium sized practices (<250 employees).
In the UK this figure is 87% (SMEs), although 38% of practices have more than 50 employees.
Globally, one in three (35%) outsource bookkeeping to a subcontractor or require their client. One in five (21%) “practices” prefer using desktop software, with three in four (77%) preferring cloud-based software.
Globally the majority (66%) of accountants work in practices where nearly half the financial documents they process are physical pieces of paper. Three in four accounting/ bookkeeping practices prefer using cloud software, and yet two in three accounting practices work in paper.
Globally, this figure is highest in South Africa where nearly three-quarters of accountants (81%) serve ‘paper-based’ clients. The figure is the lowest in Australia (61%) -the country with the highest incidence of cloud accounting.
Globally accountants believe that “keeping track of expenses and costs in business” is the most important task for their clients when managing business finance. This finding is mirrored in the UK.
German, French, Dutch and Australian accountants, however, see “having enough funds to complete payroll” as more important for their clients. In the UK this is the second most important task.
Nearly half of all accounting practices globally (47%) spend between 11-30% of their total business budget (costs) on software. This compares with an average of 19% for British SMEs.
Software recommended to clients
One in six (15%) accountant firms globally are still recommending Excel for their clients to keep track of their bookkeeping. The highest incidences are in Germany and Spain where one in five (21%) respectively are asking their clients to use Excel.
In the UK one in six (15%) accountant firms are recommending Excel.
Some 13% of accountancy practices globally subcontract the service of bookkeeping, however the majority (53.8%) provide the service in-house to their clients.
A similar proportion of accounting firms use outsourced talent to support business tax filing for their clients (15%) with the majority (51%) filing in house.
Time consuming tasks
Globally the admin tasks that accountants hear take their clients the most time is tax accounting (19%) following closely by payroll (17%). Perhaps unsurprisingly these two admin tasks are the ones which accountants think their clients would find most valuable to automate (17% respectively).
In the UK the tasks that accountants hear take their clients the most time is tax accounting (19%) following closely by payroll (18%). Perhaps unsurprisingly these two admin tasks are the ones which accountants think their clients would find most valuable to automate (18% and 16% respectively).
In South Africa and the US, accountants think their clients would most value Payroll (20.3% and 19% respectively).