Advisory Services ‘The Future Of UK Accountancy’

Posted on Tuesday, April 4, 2023 by Lydia SinclairNo comments

When it comes to accountancy recruitment, many newly-qualified accountants might be seeking a lot of sound advice. However, their careers may actually depend on dispensing it.

This is according to the new 50+50 report, produced by Accountancy Age in conjunction with Modulur. 

According to this report, the accountancy sector has been undergoing a time of significant change in recent years, with “traditional compliance services” no longer being all clients are looking for.

“In response to this, accountancy practices in the UK are increasingly diversifying their service offerings and focusing on providing advisory and consultancy services,” Accountancy Age stated.

The implication of this from an accountancy recruitment perspective is that the skillset needed by firms will be one of expertise in being able to offer advice, spot opportunities and pitfalls, rather than just dealing with traditional concerns. 

Indeed, advice and consulting has shown huge growth in just the early years of this decade. Consultancy fee income for the top 100 firms grew by 169 per cent in 2022 compared with the previous year, from £1.3 billion to £3.5 billion. 

It noted that this shift has happened because business needs and priorities have changed, with firms having to be ”more strategic and proactive in their decision-making” while, at the same time, they have been faced with ever more complex regulatory regimes, increased competition and an uncertain economic landscape.

Head of Financial Advisory Services at Mazars James Gilbey testified to these developments having a major impact, commenting: “We are seeing an increase around regulatory compliance, technology, and digital services. There is also an increased demand around transaction related issues and sustainability advice.”

Of course, that does not mean firms or individuals won’t go on needing compliance services, as there will always be laws and regulations to deal with, books to be done, tax to be paid and new laws and regulations emerging.

Indeed, new reforms on the way include a shake-up of auditing regulations, although Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales Michael Izza lamented in an interview with City AM that even though these reforms are “pretty much ready to go”, the government is dragging its feet over introducing them.

New regulations may come from another source too. According to the opinion polls, a change of government in the next two years is highly likely, which might mean more new legislation, especially if the current administration is seen to have left unfinished a much-desired process of reform.

Whether or not new regulations directly affect accountancy firms more than other companies, this will not change the new priorities for clients, who will focus on planning ahead rather than reacting to events as essential in order to thrive, making it crucial to get the best advice possible on their financial strategies. 

Small wonder that Accountancy Age should conclude: “One of the biggest challenges for accountancy practices transitioning to advisory/consultancy services is recruiting and training staff with the necessary skills.” While this may indeed be a big challenge for some, it also highlights the opportunities available for the right candidates.

For those whose studies and work experience to data might not have equipped them with a lot of aptitude or experience in this area, a willingness to learn and the ability to present evidence of this could be critical in securing new positions and being able to offer recruitment agencies an attractive portfolio to present to clients.

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