Julie Adams, senior partner at Menzies – winner of National Firm of the Year at the 2016 British Accountancy Awards, gives her views on the year ahead
What will define your firm’s strategy in 2017, and how will this be implemented?
Making progress with the digitisation of tax accounts is one of the firm’s priorities for the coming year. This will bring benefits for our clients by improving efficiency and enabling us to work more closely, based on real-time information.
To help our clients do business in a more uncertain world, we also want to continue to strengthen our consultative approach and add new value-added services where needed. These services provide much-needed support to growing businesses.
We also think international reach is going to be even more important in the year ahead and we will be promoting our active role with the HLB network and helping our clients to pursue opportunities overseas.
What service lines will be most critical to your firm’s growth during the next year and how will you capitalise on this?
Demand for consultancy services has increased significantly over the past year and we expect this to continue in the year ahead. Business leaders and entrepreneurs increasingly expect professional services to be tailored to the needs of their enterprise as a whole. Access to high-quality private client services is also important to our client base and we intend to invest further to strengthen this team.
We expect more clients will want to make use of cloud-based solutions to outsource accounting and tax compliance services; freeing up management time to deal with operational challenges.
What challenges will the wider accountancy profession face over the coming year?
Keeping pace with fast-moving technological changes is an ongoing challenge for the accountancy sector and its clients. Greater use of automation to deliver efficiency in the future means firms must be ready to match clients’ requirements and compliance fees could come under pressure.
The current Brexit-related uncertainty will continue and could influence demand for services in an unexpected way. We must be prepared to deliver the services that our clients need, when they need them.
How will the business environment change in 2017, and what impact will that have on the mix of services clients require?
Doing business has become a lot more unpredictable – regardless of industry sector – and this is forcing many clients to re-evaluate their trading relationships and operational structures and keep them under review. In particular, businesses must be ready for further exchange rate volatility in the year ahead.
For the accountancy sector, the main change will be a noticeable uptick in demand for consultative advice from trusted professional advisers and this will be further accentuated once Brexit negotiations get underway.
What policies should the next government undertake to improve the environment for UK corporates?
Measures already taken to incentivise innovation, with tax incentives targeting R&D, are highly-valued by many businesses – not just those in the tech or software sectors. These measures will help to attract investment here and they should be protected and extended where possible.
When Brexit negotiations get underway, we hope that government will be able to give businesses a heads-up about the most likely outcomes so they can begin to make plans based on greater certainty than they have currently.