This week’s blogs: back to the future

How many firms will there be in five years time? What will the spread of size
of firms be? If there are sales and retirements, where will all the client work
end up? There is plenty of business and no let up in the need for clients to
take professional advice, but someone needs to service it.

The future is what you make it, but I would suggest many fewer sole
practitioner GPs, a reduction of 10% to 15% in the number of small firms and
more and larger independent medium-sized firms. In other words, consolidation
into small and larger units.

Phil Shohet, director, Kato Consultancy

‘What is the relevance of the European Union to us?’ When a member ask me
this, I draw their attention to topical issues such as the reform of the
accounting directives and the proposal to lift EU reporting requirements on

These initiatives could result in 5.4m micro companies having reduced EU
reporting obligations and 1.8m other private companies having a revised EU
financial reporting regime, which is yet to be determined.

These are positive steps towards a simplified regulatory environment.

I agree that strong political commitment is necessary to achieve the right
outcomes. But it is surely the role of professional accountants to examine every
policy to ensure cost-saving proposals do not result in a higher cost to the
economy in terms of reduced business confidence.

Using our experience and know-how, we should be able to help shape the future
in a way that is better for all concerned.

Michael Izza, chief executive, ICAEW

Twenty years ago I was an advocate of the paperless office ­ it never
happened; we all moved to personal printers. It’s not as if we save the paper we
use for record purposes. Even my small business develops a big box full of waste
paper to be recycled each week. So why can’t we start a new green agenda for IT
by cutting back on the paper we consume.

The government has shown the lead with the electronic filing of returns for
PAYE, corporation tax and self-assessment. We have had electronic data
interchange for over 25 years and it’s still not taken off. But what is to stop
us sending documents as a pdf?

Even I have started to send my invoices out as a pdf – it’s surprising the
speedy response one gets. It makes routing the invoice around the company
easier. It also makes it easier to prompt for payment.

Dennis Keeling, business software analyst

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