Opinion: On the impact of consolidators – The future of the

Let’s go forward in time to when the consolidators have bought up many accountancy practices, creating mega-profit businesses offering speed, efficiency and the same services all over the country. We enter a bright, modern showroom, with cubicles along one wall numbered 1, 2, etc. Enormous photographs cover the walls showing good-looking people relaxed and wealthy as they review their business affairs. Immediately, a uniformed male assistant addresses us. ‘Good morning and welcome to Accountancy Express where we find solutions to your business and financial challenges. Please choose the type of adviser you want from our brochure. Personal tax specialist? Excellent. No, I’m sorry, I can’t promise you can see the tall blonde – it will depend on who’s available. The fee varies depending on the complexity of your tax affairs. Would you say yours were simple, moderately complex or highly complex? Moderately complex. Fine. Now I need to direct you to the small print. If you haven’t brought with you everything relevant to your return, it may cost you up to double our standard fee. Shall we just check?’ He checks through the bags. ‘Everything seems to be in order. Your return, using our most up-to-date computer programs, will take approximately two hours. After your initial interview, you may wait in our relaxing clients’ room, or if you prefer go to our restaurant on the third floor, or our fitness centre on the first floor. Also we have a full business suite with internet and e-mail access, and we have seminars on video. Here is the menu? What would you like? Great. Let me just confirm: one hour in the fitness suite with a personal trainer, the seminar on personal pensions with Carol Vorderman, and an organic snack at the cafe. By 2.30 you’ll meet your adviser again to go through your completed return. How would you like to pay? That will do nicely. I’ll check availability. Cubicle 4 is ready. Miss Churnit will see you now. She is the tall blonde. Enjoy your time with us.’

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