Two days. Hundreds of seminars. Thousands of accountants. We’ve all had the bank holiday weekend to catch our breath from attending Accountex— the event of the year for accountant and finance professionals.
This year we saw an array of new and improved technologies, products and services. We at Spotcap attended a wide range of talks and presentations, in addition to giving our own on alternative finance. The highlight however is always the one-to-one conversations the team has with existing and potential partners.
Here, I share just a few of the interesting takeaways from the discussions I had at this year’s show:
Products and services are changing. How do accountants choose? Cloud, automated data entry, alternative finance. Most of the accountants I met with are familiar, and often very knowledgeable, about the many new service offerings brought to market. The key challenge for them is to figure out who to work with. Since there are several providers in each product and service category accountants need to invest in understanding the differentiation between what is on offer. As a result some service providers focus on a specific niche— from online automated payroll or unsecured lending.
Becoming an accountant-adviser. Everyone is looking to raise the bar of what they are doing. Independent smaller accountants in particular are looking to diversify their offering. The goal is to become a one-stop-shop for advisory services— to be an accountant and an adviser, not just someone who manages the book keeping and financials. Funding of course is an important part of the new bundle of services that help accountants meet this goal.
The future is digital. Technology is growing in importance and it’s clear that Making Tax Digital is the next big thing after GDPR. It seems to me that MTD is acting as a catalyst for technology adoption. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has a knock-on effect on practices, pushing them to think digitally across the board. It will likely make them more open to new technology, services and change in general. As a result the whole landscape will become more efficient.
Ultimately, Accountex is very much about taking the time to think about the direction you are taking long term. It’s also a good reminder for accountants and service providers alike that they aren’t the only players in town. Everyone needs to plan for what comes next and how they will continue to provide value to their clients. The challenge – and it’s an exciting one – is to combine the financial knowledge and tech available, to help Britain’s businesses become more efficient, productive and successful.