British accountants are under more pressure than ever to advise and support their clients’ business strategies as they navigate today’s challenging business climate, according to IRIS Software Group. One in three (32%) accountants reveal their clients now expect them to deliver advisory services on top of day-to-day compliance work, and without paying additional fees.
In addition to the increased unpaid workload, this broader responsibility to support their clients is also taking a toll on accountants’ mental health, with one in five accountants saying the challenge of keeping their clients’ businesses afloat is keeping them awake at night.
The research, conducted by IRIS Software Group, a software provider of accountancy solutions, reveals that while many accountants have finally achieved the advisor status they were striving towards, they are now feeling the additional pressures that come with this role. Overwhelmingly, MTD (Making Tax Digital) came out on top as the external factor causing the most stress for the accountancy profession. The two biggest pain points noted by accountants were moving clients to MTD (43% mentioned) and preparing their own practice to do so (40% mentioned).
Two-thirds (66%) of accountants agree with the most recent delays to MTD ITSA (Income Tax Self-Assessment) and 63% also believe HMRC needs to listen to accountants more when developing the MTD roadmap.
Only 25% of accountants surveyed feel they have the right technology and tools to support clients transitioning to MTD – a fact that is piling on the pressure as they try to help businesses stay on track and grow in both good times and bad. Compounding this lack of technology is a lack of communication. Some 80% of accountants admit to not having regular conversations with clients about how best to implement MTD.
Jim Scott, MD for accountancy at IRIS, comments on the results:
“To get on the front foot, firms must put digital in their DNA. Competition is fierce and new firms are entering the market at pace. Those that don’t evolve could potentially lose out to new, digitally savvy competitors who can operate more efficiently and offer value-added services. Digital tools enable a practice to be more nimble and give the accountant a lens into the clients' business, further helping them to provide counsel and become a growth business partner for clients.”