Entrepreneurs want advisers, not accountants

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Small businesses and entrepreneurs are looking for an adviser and not an accountant, according to managing director of Wolters Kluwer (Tax & Accounting Europe), Henri Van Engelen.

Speaking about software developments in accountancy during a Wolters Kluwer roundtable today, Van Engelen said “adventurers” were shaping the future of the profession and that entrepreneurs were now looking for collaboration via cloud-based, easy-to-use software solutions.

He admitted that adoption rates of collaborative computing between advisers and entrepreneurs differed by region, but said it will eventually come to all.

Herman Roose, partner at Deloitte in the Netherlands, agreed and added that collaborative portals have been the biggest transformation for the sector in the last five years and accountants in small and medium-sized businesses were caught in the middle of this change.

He said that because this “paradigm shift” was unwinding at an accelerating speed, accountants needed to be more forward-thinking and start telling their clients they were advisers.

“Entrepreneurs need the data of today and not yesterday, technology can help to do that,” he said. “And if you could integrate all of your data into a single database, you could be as agile as a large business”.

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About Robert Lovell

Business and finance journalist


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    22nd Feb 2013 08:33

    A “paradigm shift” or quantum leap?

    “We need to change people from ‘history writers’ to ‘forward thinking advisers’,” he said. “The business of the accountant will evolve as an adviser."

    I agree with the central point of this analysis. 

    A great opportunity to add real value to a (client) business.

    And a way to counter the steady erosion of commoditised fee billings. 

    But this will necessitate both a 'mindset' and 'skill-set' shift - maybe difficult for some.

    Thanks (0)
    20th Feb 2013 21:10

    I'm an accountant....can I upgrade?

    I consider myself so lucky to have been told this in the eighties......and the nineties.....and the noughties...and now the ?  don't know what we call this decade?

    Anyway the message has sunk in and when someone called up this afternoon and said "I'm looking for a new accountant" I said, "sorry we don't have any".

    Because accountancy, in its simplest sense, is so boring thousands of us have been advising for decades.

    Thanks (4)
    21st Feb 2013 09:38

    what a load of tosh...

    ....presumably all businesses go to advisers for a cash flow 'forecast' rather than an accountant.  Unfortunately for all businesses they have to look back, in order to compile records of their performance for tax purposes amongst others.  Indeed they also need this information to check how they did against what they had forecast/planned/targeted (presumably set by an 'adviser').


    I wonder if the software being developed will help my transition from 'accountant' to 'adviser'....hmmm

    Thanks (2)
    21st Feb 2013 15:31

    I must be thick

    I really struggled to understand what the point of this article was. It seemed to meander around a couple of poor and largely irrelevant quotes and statistics from (sponsors?) large businesses, without addressing the headline.

    Technology...ok, yes can be useful but do you really have to be an entrepreneur rather than just an accountant to provide some help on this?

    Anyway all this talk of shifts and portals means I need to go...

    Thanks (0)
    21st Feb 2013 17:18


    I cant quite work out if Mano is very gently taking the proverbial out of the article or not.

    I hope so.

    Thanks (1)
    22nd Feb 2013 15:53

    It is true, but

     There is nothing new in this message

    But, every client has a budget,

    If because of the dysfunctional tax system Hopeful inventors Ltd has to pay DG-FCCA £1,000 to sort out his RTI they ain't gonna have the money to pay DG-FCCA for valuable grandfather advice.


    True story

    This morning had prospective new work. Mainly because the prospect "Suddenly" discovered his adviser was turning on the meter each time said client telephoned him for "Advice",

    The rich accountants are those able to convince clients that they should pay for "Advice" as well as accounts.










    Thanks (0)
    24th Feb 2013 12:39

    Advisers may have different balanace of skill set

    Having claimed millions of pounds in cash benefit for technology organisations in R&D tax Credits that accountants (including large / Big 4 firms) had not identified.  I know that these would not have been achieved without a team that had technological (and to an extent entrepreneurial) skill set that understood the clients operational business activity.

    This skill set has been welcomed by the clients and I suspect this would be echoed in other areas of advice, capital allowances for example. So I believe there is truth in the article, but of course there will always be a core requirement for 'the accountancy skill set to be integrated into holistic advice.      

    Thanks (0)