Strong growth ahead for accountants, bookkeepers

bookkeeping industry trends

Source: Adobe Stock.

Bairnsdale-based accountant Jessica Cane, from Accounting Solutions Victoria, is looking forward to her firm being able to reconnect in person with a client on King Island in the coming months. It’s the first trip in a long time since the pandemic hit and with clients scattered across the country, like so many other accounting practices, they were reliant on video calls to check in and help steer their clients through some challenging times.

The trip represents more than just the chance to meet a client face-to face — it is a sign that things are looking up and reinforces her optimism for the future. Cane is not alone, according to The State of the Industry report from cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses, Xero. 

The report, which was released in March 2022, is based on a survey of over 500 advisors, and looks at how they have responded to the disruption, current industry trends, and the outlook for the year ahead.

Future is bright for accountants and bookkeepers

The good news is that despite the impacts of the pandemic, advisors are largely feeling optimistic about the future, with more than three-quarters (76%) saying that they have taken the right measures to protect their practice and their clients against the financial impacts of the pandemic.

“We are definitely seeing growth and feel very optimistic about the future. The advisory space absolutely boomed during COVID and I think small businesses rely on our advice more than ever. 

“It certainly was a challenge, but our industry was very lucky in some ways during the pandemic due to the strong demand for help,” says Cane.

That growth is backed up by the survey data, with 50% of advisors reporting growth in the past 12 months and only 17% seeing a loss. Things look set to continue, with 58% of advisors expecting an increase in revenue over the next 12 months and 10% expecting to make a loss.

Cane says the growth is driven by two main factors. The first is the extra services that clients needed as they tried to navigate through the government grants system. 

“Early on and midway through COVID we offered our clients a range of extra services and there was a huge uptake because I think it was too much for a lot of people to cope with COVID and then navigate the rules and the different changes within all the grants and JobKeeper. 

“As a firm we were very proactive in contacting all our clients to help with that,” says Cane.

New businesses driving demand for skilled advice

The second push behind the growth was the boom of entrepreneurs who set up shop in response to an increase in demand for industries such as construction and professional services, which in turn generated even more demand for skilled advice.

“We saw a lot of referrals from existing clients to new clients because of an increase in businesses opening — so many people changed the way they do business, whether it was by choice or by force. They also relied heavily on our advice.”

To find out more, read the full State of the Industry report. 

How technology can help with staffing changes

While business might be booming, the report confirms many are struggling with finding and recruiting new staff, over half (54%) of the respondents listing it in their top three challenges. Despite this, almost a third (27%) are planning on hiring additional staff.

The report also shows how advisors turned to technology to adapt, with 94% of respondents revealing that adopting digital tools has had a positive impact. The top benefits are reported as time savings, increased efficiency and improved relationships with clients. 

For Cane, the advent of new technologies has helped with the current staff shortages and she says businesses need to be a bit creative and take some time to see what is available.

“We’ve certainly changed our processes dramatically with the use of technology. Recruitment is very difficult at the moment, it is very hard to find an accountant —  so we’ve relied on various technologies to simplify processes to do more with fewer people.”

Xero

Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with over 3 million subscribers globally. Through Xero, small business owners and their advisors have access to real-time financial data any time, anywhere and on any device. Xero offers an ecosystem of over 1,000 third-party apps and 300 plus connections to banks and other financial partners.

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