Firms battle for business

Competition among accountants is hotting up and is now the main fearervices, while general practice fights on all fronts. of those working for the Big Five, according to a survey of 240 UK accountants working in practice.

Big Five accountants said pricing is the second most important issue facing them, with persuading clients that they need their help, the third.

The research, unveiled this week by asset finance specialist BNY International, also revealed major differences between the challenges facing Big Five firms and their smaller rivals.

Firms outside the Big Five said their major concern was keeping pace with legislation, with competition rating third after the ability to provide an all-round service. Only 6% raised pricing as an issue.

BNY International said fears about competition had risen in both groups since last year’s survey, but the rise was especially marked for larger firms.

Gerald Nolan, BNY business development director, said: ‘Competition among accountants is taking on even greater significance. And businesses are more discerning and demanding of the services they expect from their financial advisers.’

He added: ‘The issue of keeping costs down was quoted by twice as many this year than last. Outside the Big Five, issues of self-assessment, increasing bureaucracy and providing an all-round service appeared for the first time.’

‘Accountants must ensure their service offering is right, providing the best advice at the right price.’

Concerns about small firms’ service levels were also highlighted this week in a survey carried out by the AIMS Partnership, an association of general practitioners specialising in servicing small businesses. It found that over 70% of small businesses questioned said they were dissatisfied with their relationship with their accountant.

Henry Egdelbaum, MD of AIMS, said: ‘It is surprising the consumer ethos has not filtered into the professions. The relationship between an accountant and a small business should be closer. The closer you are to your client, the less likely he is to leave.’

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