Three Major Takeaways from Steve Pipe’s Webinar on ‘The Good, the Bad and the Really Bad News for Accountants”

Steve Pipe's Research Report

It doesn’t really take mounds of research to tell that something’s wrong with the accounting profession. Yes, the profession is remoulding itself into a more digitally-savvy, advisory-model – but underneath the glossy transformations, there’s a lot of cautionary dismantling occurring in the lives of accountants.

So this summer, when QXAS and industry expert Steve Pipe came together to conduct a survey on the state of accounting in the UK – over 250 senior accountants jumped on the bandwagon and showed us a glimpse into the raw interiors of accounting in the UK.

Promptly, Steve culminated the research results and revealed them in their recent webinar; along with a resilient action plan for firms to stay steady through all thick and thin. Watch the recording here.

Here’s some of the biggest takeaways from Steve’s Webinar on ‘The Really Bad News for Accountancy Practices and What to do about it’:

  1. The Good News...

Steve opened on a positive note – highlighting what accountants are doing right and most of those thing, as you might have guessed, had to do with expertise. In theory, accountants were doing everything by the book to stave off the any adversaries from industrial shifts.

A semblance of expertise

Most of them are paid higher now than ever before. Their qualifications and skills are at the peak causing a ripple effect onto their office settings where their team members are also more skilled than ever before.

The will to give

Another major revelation that’s worthy of popping an imaginary halo over every accountant’s head is their ‘will to give.’ 86 percent accountants believed that the making a difference to clients is most important to them, personally. Hammering on the idea further, on the very same question, 54 percent accountants answered that doing something for the greater good in the world is what’s most important to them. No matter how pragmatic or ambitious the profession has become, there is always going to be enough room or generosity.

  1. The Bad News …

No Profits, Performance or Overall Happiness

Sadly, the uplifting feeling about the future of the profession was short-lived. Steve then opened the conversation on the most shocking bits of the report pointing at deteriorating results in all the following arenas:

  • Costs per client
  • Work-life balance
  • Team enthusiasm and motivation
  • Profits

However, the most disheartening of it all was the vanishing sense of happiness and contentment in the lives of accountants. According to the study, a majority of 88 percent accountants could not bring themselves to give a happiness score of anything above 3. Disconcerting at first, but slowly dawned up all of us that our practices are making us happy anymore.

On the workfront, the numbers were even more unsettling. According to the study, while reviewing the work of other accountants, most senior accountants in practice found that on an average there’s 48% errors or ommissions which means accountants now have less accountabilty; less responsibilty in their work or in Steve’s words, “accountants are screwing up.”

Why are accountants ‘screwing up’?

Steve points out to an obvious reason why there’s a stump in performance, profits and overall well-being of accountants – it’s people. In most firms, the staffing and capacity issues manifests in different problems throughout the year. The capacity problem can be categorised in the following ways:

  • The Long-term Capacity Problem: There aren’t enough people in the firm
  • The Short-term Capcity Problem: There aren’t enough people during the busy seasons
  • The Scarcity of Right Skills and Knowledge: there aren’t right people or they haven’t been given the right training
  • The Technology and Systems Issue: Firms don’t have the right resources or support
  • The Motivation and Engagement Issue: Accountants aren’t trying hard enough or have lost the will to try harder at their work

What are Steve’s recommendations?

Steve proposed a three-tier solution to combat most accounting problems which he explores more in the report:

Commit: to change what yourpeople do and how they do it

Support: that commitment with an investment of time and money in your people and systems

Sustain: the change by getting your people fully engaged

What is QXAS’ recommendations?

QXAS CEO, Dishant Desai had solutions for the top three types of practices to solve the staffing challenge using outsourcing :

Startup practices: Most startups struggle with scaling up. Hence, by outsourcing they could get the right mix of staff at the beginning in non-core functional areas of their practices like– Admin, payroll, accountant and senior – with flexible pricing.

Growing Practice: With growth comes acquisition of other practices. Outsourcing providers can often help them set up a transition team that can help integrate the acquired practice with existing practice.

Practice looking for a change: This one’s for practices who trying to digitise. Outsourcing with providers like QX helps many practices transition from their old system to move on to cloud-based systems like XERO or QuickBooks.

3.A Final Piece of Good News

There’s always a silver-lining to every dark cloud and Steve has identified both – a massive of disonnect and a massive opportunity for accountants in the report. According to the study, a majority of 55 percent accountants believe that doing something for the greater good of the world was most important to them. However, when asked what’s most important for their firms – most accountants believed it was the clients that preceeded everything else.

The massive opportunity that hides deep in this disconnect: giving is a major driver for our people in the firm. Philanthropy and contribution toward our society and world could be a driver of our business model, our actions and our hiring. It shows that after all – what matters to accountants is building a legacy.

Steve Pipe’s research report opened a lot of new avenues and data for many accountants and firms to built upon. However, we must also recognise that well-being and happiness needs no data. How you really feel about your work is a sentiment that’s too apparent to be sweeped under the rug.

These days some of us are just openly acknowledging and confronting the tension inherent in the profession – a profession that’s going through a massive transformation in the name of ‘making things better.’ But are things really getting better?

Download the QXAS and Steve Pipe’s Research Report on on ‘The Really Bad News for Accountancy Practices and What to do about it’ here.





About Rishmita Aich

My name is Rishmita and I’m an aspiring journalist and blogger. I love telling stories – of people and brands. When I’m not too busy typing out incessantly on the computer, you’ll find me reading some old American classics or petting some furry stray cats.