Online services central to future of practices, say managing partners

THE USE of cloud accounting services is set to revolutionise the relationship between clients and practitioners, according to research undertaken by practice consultancy Foulger Underwood Kato

Practices are looking to set up a single platform to provide online accounting services to clients, rather than run a range of platforms and systems based on clients’ legacy requirements.

Using cloud-based offerings to clients will continue to commoditise services, pushing advisers to offer more advisory services, the rsearch, which involved 300 managing partners, found.

“As the use of technology increases others will seek to challenge the role of the traditional accountant. The profession needs to adapt,” said Foulger Underwood Kato consultant Phil Shohet.

Smaller firms are targeting larger corporate clients by offering more specialised services, with one-off assignments in tax, corporate finance and insolvency. As such, they are looking to increase their percentage of non-recurring work.

The audit threshold issue

With audit thresholds increasingly taking clients out of the requirement for compliance work, small firms are dispensing with trainees and giving up their audit registrations – borne out in the recent Key Facts and Trends survey released by accounting watchdog Financial Reporting Council.

However, some small firms are using audit as their focus, which for some has meant acting as a centralised hub to help out fellow regional firms.

There is increasing competition for managers and partners, the research found. Challenges around key team members include how to remunerate and retain non-equity partners. Higher salaries in national firms are impacting the recruitment process for smaller practices.

“Expectations have changed significantly and more firms are providing flexible employment terms and are looking to provide clear career paths and opportunities,” Shohet added.

Further research details will be released soon.

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