Warning of consolidators’ march

Accountancy practices of small and medium size throughout the UK have all had to face up to the threat of growing competition not only from consolidators such as Tenon, which is the first accountancy business to be listed, but also other kinds of firms.

Gordon Gilchrist, consultant to accountancy firms, said: ‘Consolidators will impact on you. They are going to be part of your life. They are not going to go away.’

He also predicted a further intensive round of consolidation before the year is out.

Non-qualified chartered accountants offering services traditionally associated with accountants are a further threat to the success of small practices in the UK, he warned.

Speaking at ICAS’ third annual practice management conference, Gilchrist told around 40 delegates that it was not only the consolidators they had to watch out for.

‘The most successful client I have is a non-CA practising as an accountant,’ he said.

Lawyers, estate agents, consultants, financial services and IT professionals, as well as application server providers were all pinpointed as potential pretenders to the chartered accountants’ throne. ICAS’ former president has been vehemently fighting against so-called ‘cowboy accountants’ this year.

To avoid being pushed out of the market, Gilchrist urged delegates, most of whom come from small practices, to start considering strategic alliances with all kinds of businesses.

For those that wished to retain their existing structures he urged: ‘If you wish to stay small and beautiful, that’s great but find a niche. Specialise.’


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