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In a global research report commissioned by the Edinburgh Group, together with Donna Street, Nadia Albu and Sarah Webber, we have examined the landscape ahead for the Accountancy Profession.
This report offers recommendations for small to medium sized practitioners (SMPs) and Professional Accountancy Organisations (PAOs) about how they can work better together and sustain great working relationships.
The report also states that SMPs and the PAOs that support them should prepare together for a rapidly evolving future that sees many changes on the horizon. Changes include digital technologies, regulation and deregulation to the education and skills needed to sustain and develop in this changing environment.
Eamonn Siggins, Chair of the Edinburgh Group said: 'In the face of a volatile and uncertain environment, our extensive global research provides a series of informed recommendations for SMPs and PAOs alike. There are many opportunities ahead for both groups, coming at a time when collaboration is a must.'
'We know from our extensive research that SMPs expect and depend on their PAOs to offer tailored support. From guidelines, tools and networking opportunities, this support is vital for the future of SMPs success. The relationship is symbiotic and so demands proactivity on both sides.'
For SMPs, top of the list is the need to be proactive in seeking out new markets for their services and consider growth and diversification of their service offerings. They must also be cognizant of training requirements, recruitment and retention of accountancy-qualified and non-accountancy expertise and / or collaborations with other accountancy firms and service providers.
Key recommendations for PAOs include the need to be proactive in anticipating and understanding evolutions in the accountancy profession, while also ensuring training and development is available to SMP members to help them to adapt to a changing world.
Mr Siggins concludes: 'The alliance between SMPs and PAOs is a powerful one, but it's also one that needs to be nurtured. PAOs need to sustain close contact with their SMP members to understand their challenges and needs better, via roundtables, focus groups, surveys and case studies - and we know that many already do so. There is always more to be done and improvements can always be made. The foundations of the relationship between SMPs and PAOs are strong. But in the face of volatility, neither party can be complacent.'
The report is based on an SMP survey, that yielded 1,906 responses in 11 languages from 52 countries, alongside interviews with key staff from the Edinburgh Group professional accountancy organisations and a series of SMP case studies. The report also includes a review of other academic research addressing SMPs.
Edinburgh Group is a coalition of 16 accountancy bodies from across the world. The research paper can be downloaded here.