The industry’s leading benchmarking authority, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Australian Accounting Profession is back again, filled with statistics and analysis from firms around the country for the financial year 2013-2014.
This year’s issue will comprise five key sections, each a crucial element in the future of the accounting industry.
Structuring and managing your practice as a business
66.5% of the firms in the study were standalone accounting practices, with joint ventures with another financial planning firm and “one stop shops” providing multiple services significantly less popular options.
This year, accountants predicted that changes in technology would have the greatest impact (whether good or bad) on the Australian accounting profession, ranking it higher (39%) than outsourcing, fee pressure from clients, the economy and regulatory changes. This is an interesting development from the previous financial year, in which accountants forecasted the economy and fee pressures from clients as having a higher impact on the coming financial year than any other factor.
Key client servicing and relationship management
Only 29% of firms have a documented client contact program, and the majority of firms put their failure to meet with clients in person on a more regular basis down to a lack of time. Firms are most likely to meet with their clients between two and four times a year – not as much as most would like.
Clearly, regular meetings with clients is still a challenge, and one that may be overcome with a documented client contact program that seems to be largely disregarded by most firms.
Delivering relevant services
Despite all the commoditisation of compliance work, compliance (tax and accounting) still makes up 61% of the work firms are doing. This is compared to the 13% of work in other business advisory services, and the much smaller percentage of work from SMSF and tax planning.
Most firms are confident of being able to market, sell and then profitably deliver these services to their clients, yet the number of firms actually doing all of the above is minimal.
Achieving efficiency gains through technology and systems
With the battle between the practice management systems very much in the public eye, the Good Bad Ugly survey has revealed some telling information about what Australian accountants are really using.
Despite all the buzz about cloud, a significant 30% of firms don’t use any cloud applications at all, though this has decreased from 47% last year. It seems the most popular kind of cloud application used by firms is for the firm’s own accounts (44% of firms).
Engaging a flexible workforce
The majority of partners (62%) are spending only between 1-10 hours a week out of the office – a surprisingly small amount with today’s technology allowing an almost unrestricted portability.
Only 30% of firms are engaging in outsourcing of any kind, with 39% of firms looking to commence or continuing to rely on outsourcing in the next 12 months. Within this group, organisations that perform the outsourced work in Australia were slightly more popular (14%) as opposed to overseas organisations (13%). For the majority of firms using outsourcing, the arrangement has been profitable.
Filled with statistics like the above, and including a range of in-depth articles from industry leaders and profiles of high-performing firms, this year’s Good Bad Ugly is one of the biggest yet. The 2014 Good Bad Ugly report will be available at the end of October – to make sure you are the first to know, send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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