Prediction: More low fee clients will migrate AWAY from traditional accountants

The traditional focus on recurring work and the associated recurring fees is likely to change in the near future.

There are an increasing number of alternative, low cost and professional alternative service providers. Those clients who perceive that all their accountants do is produce accounts and tax returns will be at risk. At the moment there is just a trickle of a move to online, cloud solutions and DIY compliance. This trickle will increase starting at the lower end but across the board as everyone looks to get more value (for which read ‘advice’) from their accountant.

Accountants who provide traditional tax return completion services and simple accounts preparation services are most at risk. Plenty of commentators have been saying this for a few years. I’ve long been of the view that the move to newer style service providers will not happen overnight. But it will happen.

Accountants who are losing more than a trickle of clients would be well advised to check out what the competition is promising and doing to win work away from them.  Then comes the hard question. How will you respond?

By |2018-08-22T18:18:49+00:00May 31st, 2011|Accountants, Future|

About the Author:

Mark Lee FCA is an accountancy focused futurist, influencer, speaker, mentor, author and debunker.


  1. Elaine Clark 31st May 2011 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Given our growth I think your prediction is spot on.
    The increase in automation (accounting software, tax software, on line filing etc) makes the savvy client question where the accountant adds value to this compliance process.

    I often see a response to this along the lines of … “we offer a clients so much more than compliance”.

    That is great as long as the client only pay for “the so much more” as and when they need it.

  2. Alan Moore 31st May 2011 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Surely this prediction is not something new… has been the mantra of nearly every accountancy ‘guru’ for at least 5 years and is what originally saw the growth of organisations such as AVN, Ran One, Probiz and 2020 group.

    The main premise being that fees could be maintained only if you offered tax planning/business advise etc etc.

    Interestingly it could be envisaged that many ‘low end’ businesses may file online to save/reduce costs which would actually put pressure on not only ‘traditional’ accountancy models but also on organisations such as Elaines.

    It may be that low end accounts production and SA filing will be done by business owners using inyuitive software and will expect to pay very little for this.

    Many owners I have come across in the DIY vein have got away with filing rubbish as HMRC/CH checks have, in the past, been non existant.
    iXBRL filings should go a long way to changing this but I would think a new breed of software vendors could easily come up with an intuitive filing solution.

  3. bookmarklee 1st June 2011 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Thanks for your comments.
    @Alan – Not new just Timely rather than premature as was evidently the case with such warnings five years ago. And I’m not encouraging or pushing accountants into areas they’re uncomfortable to go.

    My stance is wholly independent. I sell no practice development services or systems. My blog is focused simply on helping accountants be more successful, more profitable and more comfortable.

  4. Andrew Law 7th June 2011 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    The smart accountants will re-organise and automate compliance processes and pass the cost saving onto clients in order to retain them. Then sell them other services at more normal accountant rates. That way everyone is happy.

  5. Nicola 7th June 2011 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I have had absolutely amazing growth with my online practice more so than I ever envisaged – it’s the third practice I’ve set up and run – the other two having been traditional high street practices and agree entirely we will see and are seeing a huge change in our profession.

  6. Tim 25th November 2011 at 12:26 am - Reply

    I do not feel at risk of losing my ‘simple’ accounts and tax return jobs. The education level of many of my small traders is such that they are unlikly to be willing or able to read the appropriate HMRC literature and prepare their own accounts. I have at least 10 clients who are unable to read and write (although they are remarkably good handling money) and they certainly will not be giving up the services of an accountant. Similarly older non computer litereate taxpayers are a secure source of client.

  7. Parallel running AccMan 29th November 2011 at 6:14 am - Reply

    […] today when I read a set of seemingly random posts that connect a bunch of dots. It starts with Mark Lee putting down another stake in the ground about the future of the profession. With apologies to Mark, I am stealing his entire (short post) […]

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