Emerging trends for accountants – “one stop shops”

Another emerging trend for accountants is the desire by their clients to use them to meet their business needs in traditionally “non-Accounting” areas. I suppose its not an emerging trend per se (its been happening for years) but it is a trend that will grow in strength and intensity in 2011 and beyond.

I was in a meeting recently with an organisation recently that operates in the property development sector. The business is a privately owned enterprise that employs around 200 people in a few different locations around Australia. Due to a combination of business growth and clunky legacy systems, the organisation was looking for a new ERP  (enterprise resource planning) platform. I was surprised when one of the business’s senior managers told me that they had hired their external accounting firm to review the market for options, make recommendations and conduct the request for tender rather than doing it themselves.

On face value it would appear unusual to use an accounting firm rather than retain a specialist management consultancy working in the field of system selection and deployment.

However, upon further thought the decision makes perfect sense. Their accounting firm had an intimate understanding of their business, a proven track record and had built a good relationship with the owners, managers and staff. Moreover, they could (and would) bring a dispassionate and objective approach to the research and selection of the “right” ERP system for their client.

The above is a wonderful example of accountants being used to meet business needs outside their normal zone. This practice will grow.

Over the last 20 years the Accounting profession around the developed world have morphed into “one stop shops”; a far cry from the core “tax, audit and advisory” service offerings that made up the standard menu throughout the 1970’s and 80’s.

Here is a short list of services that have been added to the core over the years

  • Recruitment and selection of staff
  • Information Technology
  • Management coaching and mentoring
  • Branding, marketing and distribution
  • Migration services
  • Market research
  • Environmental & sustainability consulting
  • Business process outsourcing

The services offered by accounting firms probably won’t grow in breadth, but will certainly grow in depth and modify in line with their clients demands and industry/market trends.

Tune in next time to read the next emerging trend.

James E

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