Practitioners drive cloud accounting boom

Cloud accounting goes mainstream
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Early figures from Accounting Excellence surveys confirm that cloud accounting has bedded into the profession, particularly on the practice side.

Nine out of 10 entrants to the small firm category mentioned they were supporting clients on cloud accounting systems, up from 80% among this group last year. In what is developing into a fascinating race, QuickBooks Online is catching up with Xero in terms of user numbers. After several years in which its user population drifted downwards, Kashflow staged a revival in 2018. FreeAgent’s freelance and contractor customers remain the largest group of cloud accounting users within our sample.

The use of cloud apps has continued to rise among practitioners, with expense capture and forecasting, planning and analysis apps showing 10-15% year-on-year growth among small firms.

The most dramatic cloud surge occurred in the tax and practice software categories, where programs like Capium, Taxfiler, AccountancyManager and Senta all increased their user populations significantly. Automated onboarding is also on the rise, with the number of small practice entrants taking this approach rising to 32% in 2018 from 16% last year.

Digital marketing is growing steadily, with content marketing and blogging, social networking and website investment all up on last year among small practices. Yet the lack of detailed data from Accounting Excellence Award entrants on where their new clients are coming from and slower growth of client relationship management (CRM) systems suggest that automation is still lagging among practice marketers.

Our first view of the practice awards trends shows 16% of small firm entrants aspiring to go 100% cloud, up from 11% last year. But software ratings from small businesses suggest that cloud accounting is less prevalent in the wider population, where the figure dropped to 60% this year from 80% in 2017.

This fall off could be part of the MTD effect we identified last year. The need to collect, prepare and file quarterly income and expense updates with HMRC triggered a massive switch to cloud systems among practitioners.

The July 2017 decision to delay implementing MTD for income tax removed the imperative to go cloud. While the panic around MTD may have lessened in the past year, many small businesses are unaware of the reporting requirements awaiting them in a few years’ time. But that’s a different story.

Practitioners who invested in new cloud systems appear to have spent the past year getting to grips with the technology and adapting their processes to deliver more efficient and effective services to clients. AccountingWEB will explore some of these underlying themes in Accounting Excellence articles to follow over the summer.

Full details of the survey numbers and satisfaction scores that determine which programs win the Accounting Excellence Software Awards will be revealed on 20 September at the awards ceremony in London. If you’d like to rate the software you use for AccountingWEB’s, visit our software survey – it only takes a couple of minutes to rate each product. The ratings posted now won’t affect the awards, but will feed into our forthcoming Software Reviews project.

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight

AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.

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28th Jun 2018 12:52

It is the first article to read with out mentioning the dreadful software- Sage. It might be the tide is turning against it. Where is "Peter Jones"?

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