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Predictions for 2017: We ask what’s next for the accounting industry & for businesses

We spend every day of the year thinking about the future and predicting what’s next. For us, another great thing about December (apart from a Christmas Carols’ karaoke special!) is that everyone starts paying more attention to the next 12 months. We caught up with some people in the industry to find out their predictions for businesses and accountants in 2017. Enjoy!

Greg Smargiassi

Founder at OurCFO

“2017 will see the pace of change and global competition be greater than ever. This represents opportunity as much as it does threat. Being able to see into the future to adapt, re-invent and reposition will be critical to not only survive, but to thrive.

The key here is the ability to see and visualise your path forward. It’s like driving a car. The windscreen and rear view mirror are proportioned that way for a reason. If you drive around exclusively using the rear view mirror – we all know how that would end.

Businesses big or small, must proportion their focus like the windscreen / rear view mirror to be well placed to thrive in 2017.”

Karen Reyburn

Managing Director of The Profitable Firm

“Video and live sessions will rule. I don’t mean merely sharing content but truly documenting the life of the business, sharing what’s really happening right when it is happening. Collaboration will be a key theme in 2017 and, as competition continues to increase next year, it will be those who have embraced it that will win. Another way to stop worrying about the competition is to have a true niche focus so you can dominate a corner of the market. I believe this will be big next year as the firms who have truly embraced this already are getting more business than they know what to do with. Automation is a newer theme, but  those who automate their systems and processes to reduce repetitive tasks will increase the level of strategic work they can do, and are already increasing their profits massively as a result. Finally, there is going to be no stopping the blurred lines between business and personal lives. My advice to accountants and business owners is to embrace this and work on connecting the two so that their marketing is real, and therefore more effective.”

James Solomons

Director of Aptus Accounting and Advisory and Head of Accounting, Xero Australia

“In 2017 small businesses need to focus on the experience they deliver to their customers/clients. People buy experiences and a great customer experience often allows small business to charge more for their products or services. As the rules of business get tougher and tougher businesses can’t just compete on price alone. Small business owners need to work closely with their advisers to identify great technology to embed into their businesses to improve their customer experience and to forecast and manage the effects of focusing on this part of their business”

Michael Macolino

Partner and Chief Technology Officer at Accodex

“2017 will see an increased adoption of SaaS (Software as a Service) and Public Cloud by large corporations ($20 – $100 million in revenue). Product maturity and feature depth across a range of software now makes off the shelf SaaS viable as a replacement for traditional on-premise enterprise ERP platforms.”

Mark Wickersham

Author, Speaker and Consultant at Mark Wickersham

“2017 will see the tipping point in the adoption of cloud accounting systems by business owners.  This will have two major implications for accounting professionals.  You must:

  • Go beyond the compliance work and start advising using tools like CrunchBoards
  • Make the change to value pricing so you get properly rewarded what you do using tools like Cloud Pricing

Guy Pearson

Co-Founder and CEO at Practice Ignition

“2017 is the year of .ai and IFTTT accounting. Data entry further ceases to exist especially in the UK, China, Brazil lead the way with their tax offices and data moving to APIs, forcing the big practices online and we all start looking forward with our clients. It’s time for the firms of the future to shine. “

Andrew Van De Beek
Andrew Van De Beek

CFO and Director of Illumi8 Partners

“The early adopters who have since sat on their hands will begin to be caught up by the others (are they really early adopters in the first place?). I think the push towards segment niching will continue and a number of specialised advisory firms will do amazing things. In 2017 we’ll see the emergence of leaders in the advisory space who will continue to be younger and better than ever. My other prediction is that video will be key for reaching new clients. My instinct says that business utilising video well will outperform their competitors by a comfortable margin.”

Chris Cheeney

Director of Your Salon Profit

“More accountants transitioning into real-time advisors means more questions are going to be asked of business owners that make them really stop and think. Why are you in business? What lifestyle does it need to give you? If there’s a gap…how are we going to bridge it? This is what business owners need in 2017 and I predict it will help them stop being so busy working in the business to reflect on what it needs to do for them. Measuring performance daily, worst case, weekly, has to be a key theme in 2017.”

Steve Pipe

Author of ‘The World’s Most Inspiring Accountants’

“All the research shows that the best accountants are harnessing technology to help their clients get better results by making better decisions based on better data. And that trend is going to keep getting stronger and stronger. So any business owner who doesn’t get that kind of input should change their accountant in 2017.”

Final words…

Huge thanks to everyone who supported us with this star-gazing blog. I should probably summarise with some predictions of my own. I agree wholeheartedly that collaboration will be a big theme in 2017. It will be the year where (finally!) businesses stop being reviewed retrospectively or in isolation. Cash is king but so is conversation. Accountants and business owners must focus on bringing the narrative of their business to life by telling dynamic, engaging stories with their forecasts, predictions and financial intelligence. Accounting practices may or may not have existing resource for offering business advice in their firms currently. However, 2017 will be the year where departments and teams are formed and it is most likely that these will be an extensions of the already formed cloud accounting contingents. With the progression of machine learning and AI hitting the industry the need for accountants to personalise and humanise their service will become ever more prevalent. 2017 is the year for continued education and more action.

Bring it on!

Amy Harris, Co-Founder