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Welcome to the one stop shop

Paul Surtees in accountant, future accountant
Oct 06

What does an accountant actually do? In an era defined by technological progress and operational change, that’s no longer a simple question to answer.

It’s a brave new world. Accounting has been transformed by numerous significant technological and operational changes that have forever altered relationships with clients. These changes provide significant opportunities for clients - and for accountants - to grow and prosper.

Traditional accountancy is under siege. On one front, cloud based computing, automation and machine learning are transforming the science of accounting. At the same time, clients are becoming more sophisticated and demanding as they seek integrated solutions to their problems.

Clients see accountancy as a pillar of financial services, one part of a wider gamut of business needs that include business advice, strategy, re-structuring and funding - often sitting alongside their personal finances. Welcome to the one stop shop.

For too long, financial services have been siloed and compartmentalized. Now they are becoming integrated and holistic. This shift will take time, but it’s happening. Many larger firms already have departments focusing on specialisms like audit, VAT, US tax, personal returns, charity, corporate finance, M&A, recovery, cyber security, data analytics, consultancy, valuation, the list goes on. But accountants everywhere need to take action to prevent themselves from becoming obsolete. We need to re-define accounting to ensure it stays relevant and profitable.

Here at Capitalise.com, we like to think in more positive terms. Rather than seeing technology as a threat, we perceive it to be a huge opportunity for accountants. It’s a chance to streamline simple processes and focus on services that add value. We need to take a step back and look at the wider business of helping people.

Across the industry, people are morphing from number crunchers to business advisors. Initially perceived as an existential threat, cloud accounting has the power to transform accountancy for the better, freeing accountants from the yoke of compliance driven work, enabling them to offer more meaningful services to clients.

By giving clients more visibility and control, technology is enabling clients to become better clients, too. They’re asking more informed questions. They’re letting accountants help them in more profound ways. This fundamental shift in consumer behaviour presents huge opportunities for revenue generation. But it also requires a mindshift. The role of the accountant is becoming less reactive, more proactive.

We need to reflect on how clients can be helped on a deeper level. Put simply, advice on business funding is no longer ‘nice-to-have’ for clients. In a competitive and uncertain business climate, it’s a need-to-have’. By helping clients obtain financing, accountants large and small can remain relevant in the years to come.

The good news is that it’s never been easier to provide funding advice and access to liquidity. Since the 2007 financial crisis, the UK lending landscape has changed beyond recognition. The bank-centric model is being disrupted by a technology-led approach that makes it easier and cheaper for businesses to obtain funding - and for accountants to help them make it happen. Full-service firms lead the way. It’s time the rest of the industry invested in this process, too.

On a personal level, it’s worth thinking about why you got into the business of accounting. Was it for the love of crunching numbers, or helping people? Or both? Technological advances are leading clients to question the accountant’s role in their business. So it’s important to understand your motivations and how you believe you can make a difference. What services do your clients expect? What services are core to your business? What can you outsource? Are you turning away lucrative business? Answering these questions is not easy. But by confronting these issues, you can define, consolidate and grow your position in the market.

At Capitalise.com, we enable SMEs seeking between £25k and £2m and their advisers to find, compare and select matching lenders. We can help the majority of UK accountancy firms, too, allowing them to diversify their offering to clients by leveraging our platform. Accountants and advisors that use Capitalise.com are able to grow alongside their clients by helping them to obtain the funding they need.

The entire accountancy industry is engaging in a conversation in order to understand its importance and safeguard its future. Change can be challenging. But it yields opportunities for those willing to embrace it. This is a chance to change your relationship with clients and transform your business in the process.

 

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