LEADER - Is this the beginning of the end?
For most UK accountants, it has been such a busy 12 months that it has been hard to look up and see the bigger picture. Yet, on the eve of the new millennium, that is just what the profession desperately needs to do if it is to survive more than a decade or so into the 21st century. We have all become so used to the maxim that change is inevitable that we often forget just how hard it can be, especially when things seem to be going so well. On the face of it, accountants have never had it so good. Their analytical skills have never been in greater demand as businesses strive to wring more value from their operations. Accountants are heading major corporations and the Big Five bestride the business world, dwarfing the law firms. The nagging issue that won’t go away is: ‘Why should we need accountants at all in 2010?’ Basic accountancy is now done by software. In the not too distant future, most small and some medium-sized companies will be exempted from the audit. And accountants are now doing everything they can to discard their heritage and present themselves as the new breed of business experts. The biz-whizz market is already crowded. Some of the institutes have had a stab at defining what makes accountants so special but none successfully. Someone had better come up with an answer if the good times are not to come to a rather abrupt end.