This article was first published on Accountancy Today.
The accountancy profession is evolving rapidly, with several changes that demand the attention and strategic response from leaders. The continuing war on talent, different working patterns, rising audit regulation and AI will all have an impact on our roles and services within the sector in 2024. But how do we address these challenges and stay ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape?
Governance and transparency
Firstly, a robust and effective governance structure is crucial. It’s more important than ever for a firm to have structural clarity and real employee engagement to encourage employee retention and help win the best talent. Transparency is the key ingredient.
At HW Fisher, our Inclusive Culture committee works in tandem with the Employee Council, fostering trust and loyalty across all levels of our organisation. Regular pulse checks are important to ensure we’re on the right track and continually improving.
Adapting to new ways of working
Our approach to work has to evolve. It’s no longer about how tasks are completed; it’s about what is delivered. With 52% of employees affected stating that they complete work quicker whilst working from home (Office for National Statistics), it’s clear that remote working can be advantageous. We’ve embraced a hybrid working policy, which is popular and offers employees more flexibility and choice. This trust-based approach leads to better outcomes.
We’re also cognisant of both the opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies. Cloud accounting and business intelligence tools are already making our operations more efficient, freeing up time for more valuable advisory services. We also have our sights set on artificial intelligence (AI) and looking into the potential it has to support our teams with their day-to-day work.
Leadership and relationship building
Ongoing leadership training is no longer optional; it’s imperative. We’ve initiated a program focusing on business development and mentoring because, despite technological advances, accountancy is fundamentally about relationships.
AI may transform many aspects of our work, but it cannot replace the human touch that is essential for building and maintaining client relationships. Cultivating relationships with partners and building networks is paramount in our industry. At HW Fisher, we are proud to have built strong alliances with partners such as WealthiHer, and international groups such as the UK Australia Chamber of Commerce. Being a part of these groups not only allows us to connect with likeminded people, but it also helps us a firm to keep up to speed on the latest developments across our core sectors, both in the UK as well as globally, and to understand the issues are impacting our clients.
We all know that it’s going to be an important year for economic and political change across the UK. With the Spring Statement already confirmed for March, and with a looming general election influencing tax and regulatory changes, it’s integral that accountants are on hand to guide and advise clients through these more unpredictable times.
Regulatory vigilance and opportunity
Keeping abreast of regulatory changes remains a challenge for all firms, such as new rules designed to reduce greenwashing, and the recent changes to the FRC’s corporate code of conduct. However, this is an opportunity to deliver higher value services. Firms need to take a fresh look at their compliance functions and processes and invest in their internal compliance function. This has been beneficial for us and our clients particularly in such a fast-moving regulatory environment.
In summary, the key to thriving in the future for any accountancy firm lies in having a clear vision and set of values. Since our management buyout in 2018, we at HW Fisher have been steadfast in defining and living by ours. Last year was our 90-year anniversary since our founding, where we paused and celebrated what makes our firm unique. It’s what sets us apart and prepares us to capitalise on future opportunities. As we look ahead, it’s clear that adaptability, investment in people and technology, and a strong sense of purpose will be the cornerstones of success in the accountancy profession.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to find out more.