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Tax Practice Development

Podcast: Accounting firms eying strategic growth, says latest Tax Professionals Survey

Nadya Britton  Enterprise Content Manager for Tax and Accounting at Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

Nadya Britton  Enterprise Content Manager for Tax and Accounting at Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

In a new podcast, we discuss the "2022 Tax Professionals Survey" report, which highlighted key developments that the tax & accounting industry has experienced over the past few years

The 2022 Tax Professionals Survey report highlighted the megatrends the tax & accounting industry began experiencing in 2018 and went into overdrive in 2020. In 2022, clients are likely to continue demanding more from their tax and business advisors, and firms are evaluating how to meet those demands.

Thus, it wasn’t surprising that those tax & accounting firms surveyed identified their top priorities as: developing talent, driving efficiencies, encouraging growth, and offering client advisory services.

In the latest podcast available on the Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights channel, Nadya Britton, Enterprise Content Manager for tax & accounting at the Thomson Reuters Institute, speaks with Will Hill, a Senior Tax Product Manager at Thomson Reuters, about the interconnectivity of these priorities and how accounting firms might best approach them.

Also not surprising is that talent concerns are at the top of mind for many accounting firm leaders. The podcast discusses the various ways firms are choosing to address the shortage, including making an assessment of accountants’ skillset and determining how those skills could change. Indeed, when asked about the skills needed to be an outstanding tax & accounting professional, the top three responses involved technological prowess; communications (all forms, written and oral); and soft skills, such as emotional intelligence.

Firms also are thinking about strategic growth — and the approach to this too differed by firm size. Small and solo practitioners may focus are acquiring more clients; while at the same time, larger firms see growth through offering additional services, with some even considering merging with or acquiring another firm.

You can listen to the full podcast here

The podcast also explains how driving efficiencies, another top priority, often requires someone at the helm who can own all aspects of the process and then execute the necessary changes. Of those surveyed, many saw the use of technology as being essential to becoming more efficient.

Further, the discussion around efficiencies is intertwined with talent. Can accounting firm leaders review current workflow in the absence of hiring additional staff? Is everyone being fully optimized? For example, can non-tax work be transferred from accountants to an office manager who has been reskilled to know the basis of that task, therefore freeing up accountants to do more business advising with clients? The podcast discusses this strategy along with using technology to do compliance and similar highly repetitive work.

Providing what clients want

The podcast talks about how the survey also shed light on what firms think their clients want, and the overwhelming desire on the part of clients is for advice beyond their taxes, including business consulting, financial planning, and HR or organizational consultation.

Client services and growth, for some firms, does not necessarily mean more services and more clients but instead means speaking to existing clients about their additional needs. Many firms don’t have a deep or clear understanding of their clients or their businesses and need to have deeper conversations with their clients. In fact, as the podcast points out, deeper discussions about client needs and goals can drive additional business and more services opportunities for the firm. In addition, this discussion can give firms the opportunity to learn how their clients view the firm’s efficiency and how well it is delivering services.

The podcast notes that as accounting firms consider their priorities for the year, what is most required, is for firm leaders to begin to think differently. Many professional services businesses — and accounting firms are no exception — tend to believe their problems would be solved by having more… more talent, more technology, more clients, etc.

Instead, firm leaders should think creatively about their firm’s future and how best to make their firms more cost-effective and more efficient, the podcast explains. How best is the staff working? Do they want to try other initiatives? And best can management support them? Is all of the current technology already available within the firm being maximized?

All of these are crucial questions for tax & accounting firm leaders to ponder as they eye the coming year, according to the podcast.

Episode transcript.