A study undertaken by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has revealed that two in five of their members recognise ‘consultant’ or ‘adviser’ within their current role.
The 212 members consulted for the study were in full-time or part-time employment in the finance and accountancy industry, with 17% saying that they would refer to themselves as both a consultant and an adviser in their current role.
A further 17% said that would describe themselves as an adviser but not a consultant and 4% would themselves a consultant but not an adviser. A majority – 62% – said they would consider themselves as neither at this stage in their career.
Andrew Williamson, director of marketing and commercial at AAT, said: “These results suggest that a fair chunk of our membership recognise the evolving role of an accountant.
“Many members will already be offering their clients comprehensive advisory services, without necessarily even realising the way in which they act as advisers, while others have similarly assumed the role of a consultant.
“With technology providing accountants with real-time financial information and freeing them up from more of the mundane tasks including data entry, the profession will no doubt continue to shift towards offering clients a more detailed view on their future financial planning.”
A further reflection of the changing nature of the profession was seen in software firm Xero’s campaign earlier in 2019 to change the current Oxford English Dictionary definition of an accountant to “a person whose job is to keep or inspect and advise on financial accounts”.
A petition backing this change has so far gathered more than 1,100 signatures.
On the petition’s change.org page, the author has written: “This change is to keep in line with the growing role of modern accountants, who now act as important business advisers, most notably with HMRC’s upcoming Making Tax Digital legislation which comes into play on 1 April 2019.
“Accountants and bookkeepers are now seen as a vital part of any business, with research showing that 30 per cent of small business owners viewing accountants as their most trusted advisers, and one in four (27 per cent) admitting to asking their accountant for broader business advice.”