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Although 75 per cent of accountants will be millennials by 2025, the industry is failing to adapt to these changes.

Research from IRIS Software found 53 per cent of practices believe their clients see value in advisory services, yet Will Farnell, director at Farnell Clarke, states the vast majority aren’t taking advantage.

He says, “In my experience, when you talk to traditional accountants about business advisory, they will begin discussing bookkeeping and cash flow. The problem is, they aren’t business advisory services – they are standard accountancy activities. This needs to change quickly if accountants want to remain relevant as the vast majority of their clients will be millennials by 2025. They have completely different expectations to the traditional accountant’s offering and it’s much more than just adopting technology.

“We have already changed our business model with exactly this in mind. We work with clients on social platforms such as WhatsApp and Twitter which many professionals wouldn’t even contemplate at the moment. These are the platforms digital natives[1] are comfortable using so why wouldn’t we evolve to utilise these services?”

Will also believes accountants can’t afford to ignore Making Tax Digital (MTD) during these times of uncertainty and should instead use it as an opportunity.

“Too many accountants have seen MTD removed from the Finance Bill and have taken their eyes off the ball. It is those firms which will fall behind the competition,” he says.

“MTD isn’t just another piece of compliance – it should be viewed as THE catalyst for digital change. Firms need to not only embrace technology into the hearts of everything they do, but also ensure the workforce embraces it to. Without the right staff to take advantage of the latest technology, digital transformation is pointless.”

It’s not only Will who remains behind MTD though, as IRIS found 40 per cent of accountants believe they will be prepared for the legislation by April 2018. The confidence grows to 44 per cent when asked if their client base will provide digital tax information by 2020.

Sion Lewis, CEO at IRIS Accountancy Solutions, says, “The digital transformation seen at Farnell Clarke is outstanding and should be viewed as a benchmark for the rest of the industry. Although there will be MTD work to be carried out there, it has been a truly digital practice for years. I’m proud IRIS has played such a central role in this journey.

“Many practices are moving in a similar direction and are profiting from both the efficiency gains and increased advisory services running a digital practice offers. It’s therefore vital those accountants which are yet to ‘go digital’ begin their journey and start discussions with clients. The sooner this happens the easier the transition will be and the less likely they are to lose business.”

[1] Digital native – a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology who was familiar with computers and the internet from an early age.

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