The industry’s leading benchmarking authority, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Australian Accounting Profession is back again, filled with statistics and analysis from firms around the country for the financial year 2013-2014.
This year’s issue will comprise five key sections, each a crucial element in the future of the accounting industry:
1. Structuring and managing your practice as a business
2. Key client servicing and relationship management
3. Delivering relevant services
4. Achieving efficiency gains through technology and systems
5. Engaging a flexible workforce
The report’s focus on technology reveals somewhat surprising insight into the complex relationship between technology and the accounting industry.
This year, accountants predicted that changes in technology would have the greatest impact (whether good or bad) on the Australian accounting profession, ranking it higher (38.6%) than outsourcing, fee pressure from clients, the economy and regulatory changes. This is an interesting development from the previous financial year, in which accountants forecasted the economy and fee pressures from clients as having a higher impact on the coming financial year than any other factor.
While we’re all aware that social media is changing the game for the way professionals market their services, accountants have typically been timid in their adoption of the phenomenon. Last year, 61.0% of firms claimed not to be using social media. This year, that figure’s down to 28.8%.
When it comes to the specific sites the social media savvy firms are using, LinkedIn leads the way, with 60.9% of firms on board (compared to last year’s 35.3%). Facebook comes in second, with a total of 46.5% of firms using it (up from 29% last year). Following on from Facebook is Twitter, which has 26.5% of firms signed up (rising from last year’s 19.9%). Finally, 17.7% of firms are using Google+, compared to the 7.9% using it last year. A small number (2.3%) of firms are using other unspecific forms of social media. While much of this will remain guesswork, an interview with one participant revealed the firm’s use of Pinterest as part of their marketing strategy – clearly, the new era accountants are branching out.
When asked their primary purpose for utilising social media, 54.9% indicated it was to increase the firm’s brand awareness. 29.3% are using it in the hopes of client acquisition, 26.5% for client retention, 23.3% in order to engage with other professionals, 13% for staff recruitment, and 3.7% to better understand the profession. A remaining 3.7% claimed to be unsure of their purpose for using it, but knew that they had to use it all the same.
With the battle between the practice management systems very much in the public eye, the Good Bad Ugly survey has revealed some telling information about what Australian accountants are really using.
It seems almost all firms are using some kind of practice management software, with only 1.4% not using any kind. This is a drop from last year’s 3.7% of firms without practice management software.
For the majority who are utilising practice management software, MYOB is a clear leader, with 42.3%. This figure, however, is down from last year’s 47.7%. Handisoft is used by 18.6% of firms as opposed to the 15.8% using it last year. APS has 17.2% of firms, a drop from last year’s 18.7%. Xero Practice Manager (Workflow Max) has a surprisingly low 8.4% of firms, though it’s still an improvement from last year’s 3.7%.
Cloud and Mobile Devices
Despite all the buzz about cloud, a significant 30.2% of firms don’t use any cloud applications at all, though this has decreased from 47.3% last year.
It seems the most popular kind of cloud application used by firms is for the firm’s own accounts – this area had 44.2% of firms using cloud applications. This is a significant increase from last year’s 30.3%. 27.9% claimed to use the cloud for backing up firm and client data, another noticeable rise from 18.7% last year. Superannuation sees 21.4% of firms in the cloud, compared to 13.7% of firms last year. For practice management function, only 14.9% of firms are in the cloud, which is not a huge leap from 7.5% last year. Still only 11.2% of firms have their document and email management in the cloud. 8.8% of firms claim to be using other unspecified cloud applications.
When it comes to recommending cloud accounting applications to their clients, Xero came out on top (by a wide margin), with 55.3% of firms recommending it to their clients, up from 43.6% last year. MYOB Account Right held 22.8% of the vote, a minor difference from last year’s 21.2%. Other cloud accounting options seemed to be largely ignored, with only 4.7% of firms recommending MYOB Essentials, 4.7% pushing MYOB Banklink (down from 16.2% last year), 1.9% vouching for Quickbooks Online, 0.9% for ReckonOne and 0.5% for Saasu (from 0.4% last year).
Only 4.7% of accountants claimed not to be using any mobile devices for work. Apple proved the most popular brand, with 76.3% of accountants using iPhones and 58.6% using iPads to perform work-related tasks. Android phones are used by 26.5% of accountants and Windows phones by only 3.7%. Tablets are increasingly popular, with 15.3% using tablets other than an iPad.
Filled with statistics like the above, and including a range of in-depth articles from industry leaders and profiles of high-performing firms, this year’s Good Bad Ugly is one of the biggest yet. Download your free executive summary here or purchase the full report here.