• Register
Return to: Home > News > Assurance and Accounting > There is more to accounting than book-keeping: ICAEW

There is more to accounting than book-keeping: ICAEW


Accountants must become better at advertising services outside their standard provision if they are to retain clients, according to research by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW).

Increasing technological availability means clients, particularly in the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) arena are finding it increasingly easy to carry out basic account preparation and book-keeping tasks themselves.

As such, according to research published by the ICAEW as part of its Tomorrow's Practice initiative, firms need to demonstrate their ability to provide a diversified and tailored service to clients.

The three most popular services purchased by SMEs over the past 12 months, according to the report, were accounts preparation (65%), tax services (62%), and bookkeeping (32%).

Speaking to IAB, ICAEW member department director Amanda Digne-Malcolm said: "The perception among businesses is that accountants are there for a narrow piece of work: getting out the accounts and doing the tax, whereas actually the reality is accountants have a whole heap more to offer and a strong skill-set that can support businesses into growth."

Therefore one of the things practices need to get much better at, and traditionally haven't done so well and still don't necessarily do so well, is articulating what they can offer and how they offer it, she continued.

The risk is that as statutory audit and tax regulations render some accountancy services optional for smaller businesses and advances in technology enable others to perform some tasks independently, accountants find themselves facing increasing competition and pressure to differentiate.

"There is a slight disconnect [between practitioners and clients]," Digne-Malcolm explained. "The trust is there, but understanding everything that can be offered is not there and that has to sit at the practices' door; they need to be better at articulating it and we need to be better at helping them articulate it."

Yorkshire-based Praxity member firm Garbutt & Elliott's senior partner David Dickson told IAB the findings are part of a "continuing process of accountants having to adapt to a swiftly changing market".

Dickson is thankful that processes such as accounting are becoming easier. "It means that accountants now have to provide an additional service other than book-keeping and the firms that don't do that will die, while the firms that adapt by providing add-on services will grow," he explained.

Cloud-based accounting is a prime example of the rapid changes under foot, Dickson said. "In my view, within three years, if you have people who do book-keeping in firms that don't understand cloud, they won't have a job."

With change showing no signs of slowing down, it is up to accountants themselves to ensure that the pace of change doesn't overtake them, he explained.

Top Content

    Nigeria: building compliance and engagement

    Opportunities created by regulatory and legislative changes in Nigeria are tempered by the fragile state of the economy, although practitioners are generally confident that conditions will improve over the next few years if appropriate steps are taken. Paul Golden reports.

    read more

    Ghana: a quest for consistency

    Ghana’s current economic profile would suggest a fertile landscape for purveyors of accounting services. But inconsistent approaches to compliance and application of standards – coupled with problems in the banking sector and consequent liquidity constraints – have created a challenging environment. Paul Golden writes.

    read more

    Drone technology: audit takes to the skies

    The movement towards a digitised era has already impacted the auditing profession in a number of ways, from blockchain to artificial intelligence. Now firms are taking to sky and using drone technology in their audits. Mishelle Thurai speaks to Big Four firms to find out more.

    read more

    SBC: a new alliance joins the market

    Jonathan Minter speaks to Paul Tutin, chair of founding firm Streets Chartered Accountants, about why the business and its European partners took the decision to launch their own association.

    read more
Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.