It is often overlooked how many hats accountants can wear. From going through journals to business advisors to educating clients, accountants do it all. However that means they can be left too busy to stay abreast with looking towards the future of the accounting industry and altering their offerings to remain competitive.
We speak with Kathryn Wellum-Kent, Senior Manager at MHA Monahans - a leading independent firm of chartered accountants and commercial advisers based in the South West of England - on the common hurdles firms can face with clients and an insight into where the accounting industry is headed.
Could you give us an insight into your role at MHA Monahans?
I've got a portfolio of clients and I help them in a variety of different ways. The compliance side of things, the annual accounts, the tax returns. I'm really focused on looking at the technology that we've been using the past few years and how we can utilise it to provide more business insights to clients. We’re interested in creating a deeper relationship with our clients by providing them with a better understanding of their business goals and how to get there. My internal role includes looking at education and making sure staff have the right skills to deliver the work that we need them to do.
What would you say is the most important part of your job with clients?
Education for our clients and internally as well. To show our clients and our team what can be done with new technology, the benefits it brings and how they can utilise it to their advantage. So much is changing so rapidly with the systems and what they can do.
What are some hurdles you face when pitching new technology to your firm or clients?
It's really hard for people to see the value in it. For instance, it's clear to me why clients should be in the cloud and pick up certain softwares but it can be hard for them to picture how it will benefit them directly.
How would you work around this?
The best way is showing them. A lot of people are resistant to change, they’re used to what they know works and as a result, they tend to struggle to improve on what they've already got.
Where do you think the accounting industry is headed?
The future, I think, will be using that data to help our clients better their businesses. The compliance elements in any accounting service are a given, and the market is very competitive in that area in terms of pricing. So looking from now into the future, it's all about differentiating by the value-add and the advisory element. Clients are increasingly seeking a true reflection of where the business is at so it’s all about the quality of the data as well.
There have been a lot of newer accounting firms with a future oriented mindset emerging recently. They’re challenging the market with their dynamism, responsiveness and cost effective packages. I think they are doing it really well from the get-go. If I put myself in my client’s shoes, these smaller firms do become appealing. There is a growing demand to keep up. Which is why those that don't change their offering are going to start seeing it significantly impact their business and revenue, we’re definitely in for interesting times ahead.