Should accountants embrace change?

A good place to start is to consider which side of the fence you sit. Do you treat change with despair or does it trigger the itch to connect the change with opportunity?

Accountants, especially those of us in practice, are constantly dealing with the consequences of change. Examples are legion: changes to the UK tax code, to company law, to data protection regulation, to accounting standards and keeping up with evolving software and hardware issues.

Could these changes offer practitioners opportunities?

For example:

  • Could Making Tax Digital open up the possibility of digitising clients’ record keeping that might otherwise stay in the dark ages of plastic bags and paper. This should offer opportunities to provide these clients with accessible data to help them grow their businesses?
  • Could the advent of GDPR – we assume your practice is compliant (?) – mean that you could use your newly acquired skills to help your new and existing business clients become compliant?

And there must be numerous occasions when a change in tax legislation opens up new tax saving opportunities for clients?

As part of my Taxing Times service I provide a 7,000 word booklet that includes fifteen ideas for making the most of recent changes in legislation to offer one-off consultancy or ongoing, recurring support activity with clients. Topics covered include recurring audits to comply with the NMW and NLW regulations, compliance with the Criminal Finances Act and regional opportunities.

Are there downsides to change?

And there are downsides to change. Services that we have considered sacred to our patch, accounts preparation, filing tax returns, can now be accommodated by less qualified service providers who simply follow software instructions. Even here, opportunity raises its head, to morph these repetitive services into something altogether more useful: periodic business development reviews, tracking progress towards the exit sign, benchmarking, out-performing or acquiring competitors, the list is virtually endless.

Why not add new income streams to your fee base?

Perhaps the next time you spot a change that affects the advice you provide clients, you could pause for a second and contemplate the opportunity this might offer to improve client service, and as a consequence, add new income streams to your fee base? What have you got to lose?

Bob Edwards

Bob has been working with practices across the UK offering novel ways to improve cross-sales and increase new client acquisitions. He is also interested in "step changes" in legislation that offer challenges, and therefore opportunities, for practitioners to provide new recurring and one-off support services to clients.

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