Accountants have a reputation for being ‘grey’ and not very exciting, don’t they?
Perhaps that’s why many business owners don’t expect a great deal from them beyond keeping a tidy set of accounts and making sure the company meets its tax obligations.
Picture this scene: A company director has been using the same firm of accountants for 15 years. The accountancy firm has been long established and still operates out of the same Victorian building in the back street of a small Midlands town. They are really nice people. They send the company director a Christmas card every year and make him a lovely cup of tea when he pops in for his annual meeting. They also deliver a set of accounts several months after year-end along with a tax bill.
Some years, the director is a bit surprised that his profits aren’t as good as he’d expected, or he/she finds they are paying a bit more tax than he expected. But that’s how things go, isn’t it? The business owner knows that his accountants are a safe pair of hands. They do the accounts, he pays them and everything rolls on pretty much the same year after year after year.
He’s never thought of moving to another accountants, because they’re all pretty much the same, aren’t they? You must have an accountant, and he’s happy to describe his as ‘competent’ or ‘OK’.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. There is another way.
Accountants in 2017 should be more than an unavoidable business expense. The type of firm eluded to in this article are what we would call a ‘compliance-only’ service and this is now becoming a price-led service. This type of accountancy practice is now under threat from a new breed of tech-savvy accountants. They embrace new technology which allows accountancy to be delivered in more efficient ways. This allows more time for your accountant to offer pro-active advice that can really make a difference to a business.
At Spark Accountants, we see many new clients who have been using a more traditional accountancy practice. They are often amazed to learn that by incorporating technology into their finance function their relationship with their accountant and their own numbers is transformed.
Many clients we come across have never been advised before at all.
We see our role as a pro-active business adviser who also looks after the core services of accounts and taxation. We can put systems in place that enable clients to benefit from ongoing advice and a thorough knowledge of how their business is doing 12 months of every year – not just those annual accounts after year-end when it’s too late to do anything to improve the financial situation.
Some accountants are beginning to dabble with new technologies, but even then things aren’t always great. One client recently joined us after using Xero with a previous accountant. He remarked that after one meeting with us he felt he had gained a better insight into his figures then he had in the past 10 years with his previous accountant.
Often companies don’t realise what a good accountant can do for them as they have never been shown a service that could help them drive their business forward rather than working blind and looking backwards. You can only change the future not the past!
Conforming to the rules and legislation of HMRC and Companies House is important, but traditional compliance-led accountancy practices feel as out of date in 2017 as a character from a Charles Dickens novel scratching at his double entry bookkeeping ledger with a quill pen.
If you are the type of business owner who has a passionate interest in your own business, if you are open to new ways of working and new ideas and you want to know and understand more about the numbers in your business, we’d love to talk to you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring us on 0121 794 4009.