Will accountants still be with us in 2030?

Will accountants still be with us in 2030?

Research by R&D tax credit specialists shows that accountants are optimistic, but there is a need to adapt to technology and provide value-added services

In a time of unprecedented change in accountancy, it is bound to be reassuring for many that 30.1% of accountants in a survey said they are optimistic about the future.

The survey, of 155 professionals including practice accountants, corporate accountants, sole traders and others including consultants, government, academics, students and people with an interest in the industry, found that another 27.2% were somewhat optimistic, with only 5.8% saying they were very pessimistic.

Nearly half expected low growth of up to 20% in the industry over the coming year. That is despite the range of challenges accountants face now as the pace of change increases exponentially.

While post-Brexit uncertainty was a worry for 31.6% of those surveyed by GovGrant, in association with Accountancy Age, it was not the biggest challenge identified by accountants.

That was technology-based change, with 40.5% saying they feared being replaced by technology, about 30% saying they were concerned about keeping up with new technology developments, and 31.6% raising the issue of falling prices as a result of technology.

What will happen to the profession by 2030

The research paints a fascinating picture of the accounting profession in 11 years’ time.

By 2030, most are realistic that the role will have changed drastically, although they believe that the business model will change.

Twenty-two per cent of those surveyed said it would be transformed into a virtual service, with most tasks being performed online. However, 11.4% thought accounting would shrink as a sector, with disruption by tech providers as the cause.

Less than 4% thought that accountants would be “consigned to history”, while just over 10% said the profession would continue to exist in 2030 in its current form.

Meanwhile, less than half do not offer R&D tax credit services, listing as the reason either that they have not seen a client demand for it, that they do not have the skills, or already work with an outside partner.

It is one of the services accountants may need to look to provide if they want to add more value for clients, and survive the changes which are taking place.

“There are opportunities out there right now for accountants to start redefining the services they provide and the interactions they have with their customers,” said GovGrant CEO Luke Hamm.

This can mean moving into the role of a trusted business advisor, or partnering with other organisations to offer specialist services which impact on the bottom line for clients.

“It’s really important accountants give their clients the best service, and with the best will in the world if you’re a two-partner firm, even a five-partner firm, you’ll never be able to have the depth of experience with R&D that we will,” said GovGrant’s CFO Steve Phillips.

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