Top 50+50: Are firms investing more in technology?

Top 50+50: Are firms investing more in technology?

Is technology investment by top accountancy firms increasing and does investment correlate to growth? We sought to find out in Top 50+50 Ranking survey.

Top 50+50: Are firms investing more in technology?

The fact that technology is disrupting the accountancy sector is a much-repeated line across the pages of Accountancy Age. Leaps in technological advancements such as Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Accounting and Data Science are dramatically reshaping the accountancy industry, and the adoption of such technologies can prove very advantageous for consumers and businesses alike.

One question has always remained however – are practices embracing technology-led change and recognising it as an opportunity.

This year’s Top 50+50 Ranking survey sought to find out if adoption of technology is increasing across the UK’s leading practices – and how much investment is being made in the latest tech.

  • Investment in technology increased year-on-year, rising from 0.93% of annual fee revenue to 1.37%.
  • Across the full 50+50 ranking, firms invested between 0.5% to 1% of their UK fee income in new technologies.
  • Across the top 25 firms, the percentage of tech investment is marginally higher, with investment ranging from 0.73% to 4.43% of annual fee income.
  • There is a correlation between investment in new technologies and an increase in growth – on average, the greater the investment equalled greater growth.
  • Firms who spent over 1% of fee revenue grew by an average of 9.73% while those who spent less grew on average by 4.2%.
  • Average investment in technology by the 50+50 passed £150k for the first time
  • Only half (52%) of firms offer advice on accounting software investments

Accelerating technology uptake

These figures clearly show that tech investment is increasing – and the number of practices investing in technology is accelerating. This is backed up by research completed by the likes of Sage, who found that 58% of accountancy professionals are expecting to automate tasks using AI solutions within the next three years.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that investment appears to tally with success – with the fastest growing firms in this year’s table often the ones who invested the highest percentage in the latest technology solutions.

As Stephen Browning from UK Research & Innovation wrote in a recent article for Accountancy Age, there are a number of key technological trends and obstacles within the accountancy sector that are having a huge impact on pricings, operational efficiencies and customer experience.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics are automating complex and repetitive tasks and processes in the accountancy sector, with extreme accuracy.

By streamlining data analysis, mitigating fraud and addressing the data challenge these emerging technologies are supporting the transition of today’s accountant into a more critical thinking role. As routine tasks become automated, finance professionals will be freed up to focus on more judgment-intensive activities. Some jobs will disappear, others will transform, and new roles will emerge.

One area of concern

One area of concern highlighted by the results is that only half (52%) of firms in the Top 50+50 offer advice on accounting software investments. While we this figure is almost certain to be higher next year thanks to MTD and the rise and rise of cloud software, we expected to see more firms offering this sort of advice – not least because data standardisation and the benefits of full sight of that data are hugely beneficial to firms of all sizes.

We discussed the findings and key learnings of the Top 50+50 Ranking in a recent webinar. Register here to listen to the webinar on demand.

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