Accountants have demonstrated resilient in the past, however. The introduction of GST required accountants to move away from data input, towards training and a review role. With more timely reporting, clients became more interested in the numbers and astute accountants leveraged off this.
13 years ago as a junior partner in a compliance dominated rural firm I questioned if accountants actually added much value doing the processing. After all “tax is not a problem if your earning the profit”. With a different focus, in 2005 our average fee had tripled and compliance had dropped to 60% of turnover.
And now our industry is being disrupted even more so by accelerated global digital connection – the compliance product is being commoditised further and price will be the point of difference. The processing component of year end work will become non-existent.
What this means is, accountants must do more of what they are trained to do – articulate and communicate the meaning of numbers extricated from reports which someone else has produced – what do these numbers mean and how do they impact on the business now and going forward?
Transitioning from processing to articulating knowledge is a matter of mindset and focus. After all accountants are professionals who can interpret numbers and can provide valuable advice on how to take the business forward in the most profitable way.
Most SMEs don’t have or cannot afford to have these skills in house. Even when they do, smart business leaders want to be questioned from an outside perspective. Accountants, who continue to build their advisory reputation, will remain a valuable resource to SME’s – they must be relevant, proactive and maintain focus on their relationships with their clients.