The Practitioner: Firms’ future is off the high street

I HAVE BEEN TALKING to lots of people recently – clients, family, friends etc. – about their thoughts on the accountancy practice of the future.

We are currently bogged down by high fixed costs, property costs and software costs. We have been talking in the last few partner meetings about the best way to address this.

It is interesting to hear different people’s opinions on the issue, and they offer a wide range of varied opinions. My fellow partners’ views are less radical – with suggestions only of looking at ways to increase sales and basically burying their heads in the sand when it comes to cutting costs.

Clients to whom I am close are not afraid to offer their opinion. Some clients are even happy to suggest names of individual staff members who they think should be chopped, but that’s another story altogether.

Family and friends that are in business have also been a good source of ideas, most of which share my radical way of thinking.

If I had my way, I would wake up tomorrow morning, walk into the office, and shut it.

We would terminate the lease, move into a smaller out-of-town office with lots of parking, get rid of some clients, sack a couple of staff members and grow from a solid base while focusing on profitability rather than turnover. The well-coined phrase ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’ is certainly true. Especially, it seems, of the more senior partners.

My vision for the accountancy practice of the future is off the high street. High property costs will be a thing of the past, to be replaced by a smaller ‘drop-in’ style office. The majority of staff will be home workers and receive a profit share, and one dedicated staff member will no longer have to carry out administration.

Clients care about service, attention to detail, honesty and dedication. They are less concerned about visiting big swanky offices, seeing plasma screens on the wall and the smell of filter coffee drifting through reception.

Here’s me thinking this is radical, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are firms out there already operating in the dream state described above.

I would love to hear from you.

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional firm in the heart of England

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