What does 2018 hold in store for accountants?
Now we’ve got that seemingly never-ending month of January out of the way, we’re able to take stock a little and look ahead to the rest of the year, including […]
Now we’ve got that seemingly never-ending month of January out of the way, we’re able to take stock a little and look ahead to the rest of the year, including the impacts of key regulations and financial events, and the challenges and opportunities that accountants imminently face. It might sound quite dry, so we’ve made a digestible shortlist of what we think you, as student accountants, should be aware of.
A quick look back at 2017
There was a lot of long-term investment into the profession last year: big firms continued to attract young talent into their businesses, and while there seems to be an improvement in diversity, there is still some way to go on this.
A lot happened in 2017 globally and politically, and there has been a notable shift in businesses looking for broader solutions rather than being service-line specific, so accountants will need to think bigger and bolder going forward.
Tax seems to be getting ever more complex with regulatory changes, and while we can all hope for more certainty and stability this coming year, the best we can do ourselves is make sure we’re fully aware of all the regulations as they are now and potentially pre-empt the direction of any new changes from there.
We’ve blogged about this before, and now the May 2018 deadline for compliance is well and truly on the horizon. There are multiple ways in which GDPR will change how accountancy firms work with their clients, encompassing marketing, IT and systems, HR, legal matters, and internal audit and finance, so make sure you know how you fit into this.
In preparation for Brexit, accountants need to realise that communication is important. The uncertainty around Brexit cannot be changed, but keeping up frank conversations with the right people (including your own staff) will go some way to remedying this.
Businesses can find opportunity in Brexit too, such as in-bound investment into the UK. The greatest opportunity for accountants will likely be around M&A activity and taking advantage of greater trade deals outside of the EU.
Technology and cyber-security
With every passing year technology impacts accountants in how they use their technical skills, as well as their interpersonal skills. Buying is also different; there are more requests for services through website applications, through RFPs digitally, and through social media.
Given that, everyone should continue being very concerned about cyber-security, and speaking with their technical teams to ensure they are au fait with keeping data secure online. With greater media attention, firms need to be seen to be at the top of their game when it comes to security.
The Spring Statement
With the return to just one annual budget statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer (due in the Autumn), will the Spring Statement just be a forecast or are we in for some unexpected announcements? We’re inclined to think there won’t be any significant tax changes (unless something major happens before then), and that Phillip Hammond will take the opportunity to focus more on the economy.
April tax changes
The dividend allowance will impact small businesses in particular. There are also the changes to mortgage interest on buy-to-lets, which will make it slightly more difficult for buy-to-let landlords in terms of how they run their business.
Blockchain, Bitcoin and the rise of cryptocurrencies
Whatever your thoughts on Blockchain, at the very least it demonstrates the extent of change going on around us, as disruptors play a growing role in the business world accountants advise in.
As a result, professional services firms need to take a view on where they will invest their resources and skill base to be able to assist clients, and to accept that these disruptors are growing.
While Bitcoin may have crashed in recent weeks, its meteoric rise prior to this only goes to show the impact new or crypto-currencies can have, so it’s best to stay informed to be ahead of the game.
With big changes coming, from GDPR to Brexit to Making Tax Digital, (not to mention the rise of other technologies previously mentioned) accountants that can make sense of it all, communicate it clearly and provide profitable solutions will be very highly thought of. Time to show what you can do!
For those really keen to find out more about what 2018 is likely to hold on store for accountants, you can listen to this excellent discussion, which covers many of these topics, from Accountancy Age here.