PracticeAccounting FirmsICAEW reveals the firm of the future

ICAEW reveals the firm of the future

The successful accountancy firm of tomorrow will mirror the large firms, taking on a corporate structure and relying on value added services for greater profitability, according to new research.

The study, to be launched at the ICAEW’s annual conference next week, reveals the typical general practice of the future will have ten partners and turnover of £10m, niches in all major areas, and will rely on recurring compliance work for 60% of its fee income.

But the remaining 40% of income would be high value, high profit work.According to Mark Spofforth, the ICAEW’s chairman of education and training, there are good opportunities for general practitioners, but they also face significant competition, from mid-tier firms and unqualified accountants as well.

During the course of his research, which investigated the shape firms will take in the next decade, Spofforth interviewed 30 UK firms and found the most successful had a strong firm culture.

‘There is no easy way of differentiating yourself, except with enthusiasm. You canåt pretend to be interested in your client, they will see through it,’ he said.

‘There isn’t a magic pill for success,’ he added.

Spofforth found the partnership structure was becoming an increasingly ‘rotten’ way to run a firm, saying more firms were being run along corporate lines, with a small board taking key decisions for the whole firm.

The research also found firms were making increasing use of technology, in client work and in practice management.

‘Technology is being used for client accounts and knowledge management,’ Spofforth said.

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