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Less than one in five accountants were happy with client retention and growth rates in their practice, according to a new report.
The Bstar Accounting Research Report, conducted collaboratively with BT Financial Group, surveyed 600 partners and senior professional staff within accounting practices from May 2016 to February 2017.
The overall view of client retention and growth saw a sharp decline from 41 per cent last year to 19 per cent.
Factors such as competition from ‘big data’ companies, the rapid pace of digital change and the need to broaden their advisory services to stay relevant, were cited as reasons behind the decline in confidence.
BT Financial Group national partnerships manager, Meaghan Victor, said the need for growth was an overwhelming theme in the report, with common barriers identified as capacity and time constraints.
“Accountants want to spend more time on delivering advice to their clients and less time on data entry and report generation. They want to increase their capacity, and are looking to technology to increase productivity, Ms Victor said.
“The efficient use of technology to deliver services was a strong theme. Understanding technology, using it to increase productivity, and the continuing need to adapt to new technology was emphasised by a number of respondents. Sixty-three per cent of respondents are already using technology to improve efficiency.”
Meanwhile, accountants noted their strong client relationships, with 90 per cent of respondents believing they are their clients’ most trusted adviser, and 78 per cent who say they have sufficient relationship and product trust to engage their clients for advisory services.
Seventy-one per cent said they had converted compliance clients to advisory clients, with 50 per cent segmenting their client base to find advisory opportunities and one in four practices actively asking for referrals on a regular basis.