in Business

The results are out: Accountants Benchmarking Survey Report 2018

This is a guest post from Tom Herbert, Editor of AccountingWeb

At a time of great economic, legislative and technological change, more businesses than ever are looking to their accountants to provide help and advice. But how are the accountants coping?

The GoCardless survey provides us with some fascinating insights into the minds of accountants around the country, and the results offer a thought-provoking snapshot of the current state of the profession.

  • 84% have met their clients face to face
  • 53% of their clients use cloud accounting software
  • 43% of client fees are collected through customer bank transfers
  • 14% make it mandatory for their clients to use their preferred accounting software

It should come as no surprise that the main goal for accounting firms in 2018 is to acquire more clients – 41% of firms that responded to the survey listed this as their top priority. Perhaps more surprisingly, 23% stated that their number one target for the year is to grow their bottom line with increased automation and tech.

Only 5% of firms stated that their top priority was to deal effectively with regulatory changes like GDPR, bucking the perceived wisdom that change in the profession is largely legislation-led. Indeed, despite the government’s tinkering just 7% of firms felt less confident about offering advice to clients regarding regulatory changes than they did a year ago.

Another much-covered trend in accountancy has been the evolution of services offered. While the vast majority of firms offer bookkeeping, payroll and tax services, nearly three quarters (74%) offer business advisory in some way, shape or form.

More than a quarter of firms (27%) also offer a version of the ‘outsourced CFO’ model. While this number may seem low, it is reflective of the direction of travel, and as smaller firms use the latest tech tools to adapt to the market I expect this number to rise rapidly in the next two or three years.

More broadly, the survey hints at increasing economic confidence. In times of recession many businesses prioritise cost saving and batten down the hatches to weather out the storm. However, only 3% of firms listed reducing costs as their top priority for 2018. This statistic is only slightly dampened by the spectre of late payment: a quarter of respondents have average debtor days of 29+ days, while 6% of firms spend more than 13 hours a month chasing payments.

Finally, if you’ll permit me a small personal triumph, it was heartening to see that the top answer to the question ‘where do you get your most valued advice from?’ was AccountingWEB. We’re delighted to still be helping accountants after 20 years online.

Enjoy the survey and hope to see you on the site soon.

How does your firm measure up?
View the report