The recent results of an AccountantsDaily poll, which asked ‘Are you noticing a decline in demand for compliance-based services?’, revealed that as many as 80 per cent of the 349 respondents are yet to notice any decline in demand for their compliance services, despite the numerous warnings handed down to the profession regarding the diversification of their services.
“I’m not surprised by the result,” Greg Hayes, director and chairman of Hayes Knight, told AccountantsDaily.
“The reality is that compliance is not reducing and the majority of clients will go to their accountant for assistance. The predicted death of compliance services is a nonsense, and one that is promoted often by people who have a vested interested in getting accountants to look at other service offers,” said Mr Hayes.
According to Mr Hayes, accountants have been hearing the same claims about the ‘death’ of their main service offering for the better part of 20 years.
“And yet compliance services are still the dominant service stream for accounting firms,” he said.
Debra Anderson, of Anderson Tax & Consulting, also voiced her lack of surprise at the survey results.
“I haven’t seen a decline for compliance-based services either – however I have seen an increase in advisory services,” Ms Anderson noted.
According to Ms Anderson, it’s currently an interesting time for accountants.
“Albeit it’s tricky because clients are expecting advisory as part of their compliance package without wanting to pay additional for it.
“We need to change our thoughts on what compliance actually is, to meet the expectations of what compliance actually means for our clients.”
Mr Hayes agreed that new service offerings have provided an added bonus for firms in their ongoing growth and expansion.
“The development of broader service offers has allowed accounting firms to accelerate their growth and this is likely to continue,” he said.
“There is no question it is harder to grow a firm simply based on compliance services than it is if you introduce additional services. Not all accountants are comfortable with providing a broader service offer and those firms will concentrate on compliance work.”
“There will continue to be plenty of work in that space,” stressed Mr Hayes.
“The risk to firms not providing a broader service offer is that some of their clients who want a broader service range may gravitate away from them. At this stage this is still a relatively small percentage.”