With the annual tax return phasing out and with the view HMRC and banks will need to switch to a common, digitised, real time platform for tax filing, there’s clearly been some concern among accountants that elements of their business will be eroded.
I actually think it’s the opposite; there’s a perfect storm for accountant professionals and financial advisors to widen their reach to market and scope of services. It’s a view shared by many of the accountants we work very closely.
Why? On the back of people having access to real time personal and company tax data, they will in turn become more astute with their company and personal tax affairs. Business owners, employees and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs will naturally become more involved, aware and proactive with their tax situations. They’ll feel much more empowered to control their tax situation, identifying and developing tax deductible contributions to their lifetime investment plans.
This means there’s a major opportunity for accountants to provide clients with a real time view on the detail behind their monthly outgoings, enabling them to expand their offering beyond annual accounts preparation to proactive monthly tax analysis and advisory services. Providing this strategic business advice and counsel is helping accountants to play more of a financial advisory role, something we know that SMBs in are increasingly asking for from their accountant. And, as they get closer to clients, that should give them a platform to sell even more high value services.
Also, SMBs and accountants are getting much more used to accessing real time information. The accountancy business is changing rapidly, driven by evolving client demands and legislation. But one of the biggest drives is cloud computing, which is enabling accountants to collaborate online in real time with clients, streamline day to day operations and do chargeable work on the move.
Naturally there are a lot of unknowns from the Government’s announcement on specifically how the change will be implemented. However, in principle, moving from an end of year panic to hit the deadline to a more proactive real time experience should be a positive change. It’s the ideal platform for more people to take control of their tax affairs and personal wealth creation, backed by the help from their accounting professional advisor.
Nick Williams is the Head of Business Development at QuickBooks Online. Follow him on Twitter