The shifting environment in the accounting profession presents a big opportunity for accountants to expand their roles in their industry.
A study conducted by Intuit revealed that out of 500 small business owners operating in a range of industries including retail, IT/communications and services in Australia, 43 percent are running without an accountant or bookkeeper. Meanwhile, 9 percent of them are seeking help from accountants to add strategic value to their business through advice or planning.
As an advisor myself, I know that there is a big opportunity in the accounting and finance industry. The thing that excites me is that there are so many people out there that we can help; they just don’t understand how yet. A lot of small businesses don’t know their numbers and the fact that numbers drive everything. I always tell my clients that it is important to understand your numbers and the key drivers behind them.
According to Nicolette Maury of Intuit Australia, this is a big opportunity for accountants to step in and fulfil the roles as trusted advisers. “We know from the research that small businesses who have a trusted adviser are much more confident of success but what we also know is that almost half of small-business owners don’t even use an accountant or bookkeeper and when they do, only about 9 per cent of them are using their accountant to add strategic value to their business and help them improve their overall business performance,” Maury said.
The research also points out how start-ups neglect to engage with their accountants, while others believe they can’t afford the services of a trusted adviser. I think the reason there is a small number of Australians who consult a financial advisor is the reality that it is such a diverse industry; people don’t really understand what we do. Before, they know us as investment advisors but now, our role is to provide a holistic approach. Most of our clients ask help with structuring debts and getting cash management on track; not just investments.
Maury added that proactive accountants nowadays use cloud software and collaborate with their clients via the cloud. She said, “Rather than those purely looking at the data backwards to give advice on compliance and what they could have done better in the past, it’s those forward-looking accountants and bookkeepers who are presenting themselves to the small business as an adviser, rather than just a compliance or a tax support, who are the ones that are taking full advantage of this.”
According to Intuit, the next decade in accounting will include successful accounting professionals who will take on new roles as consultants and advisors, providing performance management, decision support, IT advice and similar services, with less emphasis on nuts-and-bolts functions such as computation and tax preparation.
Accountants who are equipped with the right skills have the big opportunity to win in this business as the demand for consulting and advisory services will continue to rise.
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