PracticeAccounting Firms‘Accountancy speed’ top priority for SMEs, but advisers wary of ‘robotisation’

'Accountancy speed' top priority for SMEs, but advisers wary of 'robotisation'

The top priority for SMEs from their accountants is speed - but even advisers using tech to be efficient are wary of their offerings being commoditised

‘Accountancy speed’ top priority for SMEs, but advisers wary of ‘robotisation’

THE TOP PRIORITY for SMEs from their accountants is speed – but even advisers using tech to be efficient are wary of ‘robotisation’.

The survey of 2,500 SMEs and accountants, carried out by business software provider Exact, revealed that UK SMEs are twice as happy with their tech-savvy accountants, and the number of online accountants has tripled since 2015.

It revealed the number one demand from clients is speed, and so accountants have recognised IT and software knowledge as the most pressing area for improvement for their profession (37%), ahead of core accounting knowledge (33%) and communication skills (30%).

Gavin Fell, general manager of Exact, said: “Rising demand for information ‘now’ combined with advances in new technology mean that accounting is increasingly seen as a commodity. Accountants that can keep the pace providing real-time and in-depth business insight for clients, have the best chance.”

infographic exact

The survey revealed that 67% of accountants highlighted better integration of admin software as a crucial focus area, as well as replacing paper forms with online forms (62%), and improving home/mobile access (43%). There has been a drop in ‘spreadsheet accounting’ from 25% in 2015 to 20% this year, and the number of UK SME customers that are entering their data online, are slowly on the rise from 10% last year to 16% this year.

Less than half, 40%, think that ‘robotisation’ is overhyped, and yet 23% believe that highly-automated competitors pose a very real threat. When it comes to their SME customers, only 10% would trust a robot to do their accounting.

The number of accountants using one integrated end-to-end software solution for back and front office administration close to double from 22% last year to 42% this year. The impact of this has been a reduction in admin time, integration of business processes and improvement of flexibility.

In the UK, 45% of accountants now use online solutions for administration, the second highest level of digital uptake in Europe, behind the Netherlands (60%).

The 2016 ‘SME Barometer Research’, commissioned by Exact surveyed professionals across Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US.

Related Articles

BDO replaces Deloitte as Mitie auditor

Audit BDO replaces Deloitte as Mitie auditor

2d Emma Smith, Managing Editor
PwC’s five strategic priorities for becoming ‘the leading professional services firm’

Accounting Firms PwC’s five strategic priorities for becoming ‘the leading professional services firm’

2d Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Mazars appoints new partner to accounting and outsourcing team

Accounting Firms Mazars appoints new partner to accounting and outsourcing team

2d Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Smith & Williamson appoints new partner from EY

People In Practice Smith & Williamson appoints new partner from EY

3d Emma Smith, Managing Editor
FRC closes KPMG HBOS audit investigation, Treasury Committee expects ‘full explanation’

Accounting Firms FRC closes KPMG HBOS audit investigation, Treasury Committee expects ‘full explanation’

4d Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Advertise With Us

Advertise With Us

2d neldrine
Digital Vs Paper Receipts : What you need to know

Cloud Digital Vs Paper Receipts : What you need to know

2d
The great professional services shake-up

Accounting Standards The great professional services shake-up

3d Fergus Payne, Lewis Silkin