As you can imagine, we don’t own a crystal ball but, like most businesses, we need to have an eye to the future of our industry.
2030 is only 12 years away and I cannot tell with absolute certainty what an accountancy firm will look like then, but it is likely to be very different. If we look back more than 14 years, I was a senior accountant at a firm in Nelson; Geoff, David and Karen were more hands on with preparing financial statements than they are now, and we had a full time person (Sharron) inputting data from bank statements. This is obviously quite different today. Some things haven’t changed; we have the same name, same location, financial statements still need to be prepared and tax returns need to be filed, albeit prepared more efficiently and to a higher standard, we believe.
So, what are some of the things that might impact our business over the next 13 years?
- How will Inland Revenue’s drive for tax simplification impact accountants?
- How will better accounting software impact our industry?
- What other technology will be dominant?
- Will there exist online accountants that you never meet in person?
Whatever the future, we need to start preparing, or at least understand the process of change management, so we are ready when we need to. But how do we do this if we don’t know what the future will look like? Build small change/improvement into your business now. Some people resist change, putting roadblocks up, making the whole process more difficult than it needs to be. This reaction is understandable, so we need to consider how best to manage them through it. Sometimes it may be harder and take more resources than you expect, or energy that you don’t have, so either start with small projects or get a consultant to help you through it. Don’t leave it until the last minute, as your business may be put under strain if you leave it too late, or you may not have enough resources to make the change successfully.
In our business, we meet with a small group of like-minded accountants at least once a year. These firms are different in size, structure, development and markets, but generally we try and learn from each other’s successful, and sometimes not so successful, business experiences. This helps us look at our business to see where we can improve. Over recent years, we have developed more of a Continuous Improvement approach; so that as our industry changes, it’s not such a big step for us to stay current.
Good luck with your planning – if you stay positive, change can be fun!