Accountancy practices already are Advisory practices

Accountancy practices are advisory practices. Not sure? Just ask an accountant for advice and see for yourself. On page 12 of this magazine you will find a great article by Elaine Clark, where she restates her love of compliance and says: “I guess the only fault about compliance accountants is that, generally, they do not shout about how good they are at what they do and the services that they provide. They just do it!”

As I travel around talking to small practice accountants I find them inquisitive, knowledgeable, dynamic, literate and caring. They use all these qualities for the good of clients, their clients’ families, their clients’ staff, their own staff and their own families, and I think it fair to say the good of the country as a whole. We are the quiet majority that actually make the system work for millions of taxpayers – and HMRC and HM Treasury.

We are the backbone of the profession, we deal with the nitty-gritty of the system, we handle the day-to-day interactions and we even take the flak from clients when things go wrong (even though very often what has gone wrong is out of our control). I’d go so far as to say we are the backbone of HMRC as well, and I’m not exaggerating. Just imagine how much harder their job would be if all the errors they made that we put right had in fact to be resolved by them rather than us.

While we are the backbone of the profession, we are also its heartbeat – we feel the pulse of businesses throughout the land, we help make the adjustments that save many from problems, and also help them drive forward their planned growth.

It’s what we do, it’s part of our DNA, and no one who has never been in practice will have experienced the highs and lows that we experience, not just from our own practice but from the businesses and taxpayers that we help. They can look on from the outside and cheer us along, but they will never feel what we feel, they will never enjoy the successes we have, they will never will develop the bonds with clients and their families that we have.

Yet the so-called ‘twittersphere’ and ‘blogosphere’ are full of all sorts telling us that compliance is dead and we can only exist as an advisory practice. This statement alone shows exactly how little they know about what we do and how we do it. It shows their ignorance of the work of thousands of accountants across the UK who work tirelessly and with great professionalism and ability. They are already advisory practices, but just happen to be advisory practices that don’t use the software or systems that they are trying to sell us.

‘Compliance disparagers’

We are accountants, we are important, we understand our clients. Do the ‘compliance disparagers’, as Elaine calls them, understand us? The answer is for me a resounding no – and yet they feel it perfectly reasonable to tell us what is or is not the future, simply because they give themselves a fancy title like ‘futurist’ or ‘commentator’. And, of course, because the internet allows for self-publicity on steroids they constantly shout loud and long about how easy accountancy would be “if only…”

The ICPA supports accountants in practice: our motto is “Supporting you support your clients”. We know how important you are, we know how hard your job is, we know how hard you work and we will never disparage what you do.

We are the backbone of the profession, and while others talk about accountancy we just get on with the job of being the very best accountant we can be. This is always worth remembering – the naysayers will actually never be that because they are not accountants.

  • Tony Margaritelli Chair, ICPA

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