I HAVE BEEN TALKING to lots of people recently – clients, family, friends etc. – about their thoughts on the accountancy practice of the future.
We are currently bogged down by high fixed costs, property costs and software costs. We have been talking in the last few partner meetings about the best way to address this.
It is interesting to hear different people's opinions on the issue, and they offer a wide range of varied opinions. My fellow partners' views are less radical – with suggestions only of looking at ways to increase sales and basically burying their heads in the sand when it comes to cutting costs.
Clients to whom I am close are not afraid to offer their opinion. Some clients are even happy to suggest names of individual staff members who they think should be chopped, but that's another story altogether.
Family and friends that are in business have also been a good source of ideas, most of which share my radical way of thinking.
If I had my way, I would wake up tomorrow morning, walk into the office, and shut it.
We would terminate the lease, move into a smaller out-of-town office with lots of parking, get rid of some clients, sack a couple of staff members and grow from a solid base while focusing on profitability rather than turnover. The well-coined phrase ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity' is certainly true. Especially, it seems, of the more senior partners.
My vision for the accountancy practice of the future is off the high street. High property costs will be a thing of the past, to be replaced by a smaller ‘drop-in' style office. The majority of staff will be home workers and receive a profit share, and one dedicated staff member will no longer have to carry out administration.
Clients care about service, attention to detail, honesty and dedication. They are less concerned about visiting big swanky offices, seeing plasma screens on the wall and the smell of filter coffee drifting through reception.
Here's me thinking this is radical, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are firms out there already operating in the dream state described above.
I would love to hear from you.
The Practitioner's uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional firm in the heart of England
The latest comment about the future of general practice makes absolute sense. The major impediment is tradition and inertia. In time those practices who adpt this modus operandi will gain more business from more traditional firms but it will take time. Surely it is bottom line results that matter not top line income.
Posted by: Chris Savory, 24 Jul 2012 | 12:14
I've been operating full time, effectively on my own for just over a year. Business is growing satisfactorily but I don't see myself moving out of the home office any time soon.
Remote PA services, sub-contractors, serviced meeting facilities if/when I need them, and good practice management systems (whether the humble paper-and-spreadsheet variety or dedicated software) will put off for some years, I expect, the day when I will have to take on those property overheads and thus end up working for my landlord/mortgage lender.
Posted by: SBW, 24 Jul 2012 | 14:41
I totally agree with you. It is now possible to do all accountancy and tax work electronically from anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access. My 'office' will soon be my netbook. It is a shame HMRC do not communicate be email yet so I am using a forwarding address where I can also use meeting rooms if needed.
Posted by: Nick Peat, 25 Jul 2012 | 15:24
I run my business from home and my workers all work from home, and it works really well. Clients like to have a personal and honest working relationship and my practise is growing fast
Posted by: Paul Thompson T/as Thomspon Accountancy Services, 25 Jul 2012 | 15:49
We set up an out of town office about 10 years ago - it was so successful we were bought out within 5 years!
I now work remotely for another firm. On the productivity side it's great, but do beware, it does not suit everyone - some of my colleagues struggle.
You have to be a particular type of worker to cope with remote working - sufficiently outgoing to pick up the phone proactively, not too sociable that you need people around you all the time; very IT literate as you'll need to be!
And the employer has to support them well - they are too easy to be neither seen nor heard, so ensure you have a strategy in place to keep them all involved.
Posted by: ER , 27 Jul 2012 | 13:19
I like the idea of home working especially with a young family but unfortunately when I did try doing that on a subcontract basis I felt like I was doing a lot of work for not a lot of money. It was my fault to agreeing to such a low price but as it was the first time I was doing something like this I wasn't sure what to expect. I like the idea of home working still but if I'm employed and working from home, how do you monitor what your employees are doing?
Posted by: Nisha Patel, 09 Nov 2012 | 10:29
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