In no particular order...

  1. Cloud computing.
  2. 1-to-1 Communication.
  3. SEO / website reliance - no longer works.
  4. Organic search - no longer works.
  5. Accordingly, more people are using paid search, especially on social and it's getting more & more expensive to use paid social.
  6. More millenials are using accounting services.
  7. Desktop is still the main way we use accounting services - "Continue to understand how mobile plays a role in your overall strategy, but don’t prioritize it at the risk of alienating non-mobile customers."
  8. Ratings, reviews and referrals continue to be of huge importance.

It's no surprise that all but one are technology related. Like in all industries, those firms who embrace this change will benefit the most. However, what appears most interesting is that 'off the shelf' solutions no longer seem to be cutting it in this space, be that with quickfix SEO tinkering or moving a portion of their marketing spend over to social media adverts to gain the required exposure. (If this is of interest, here's a short post I wrote on how content is now the key factor in SEO.)

Moreover, it has become increasingly important for these large organisations to work hard on adding real value to every customer interaction or risk being left behind by virtual service providers like Xero/Quickbooks who can focus in on the 1-to-1, tailored services which gives the customer exactly what they want. 

The incumbent accountancies and (professional services firms more generally) need to double down on their core USP - their fee earners unique knowledge & skill sets combined with that local knowledge and the capability to deliver it in a highly personal, familiar way. 

They can retain their competitive advantage by leveraging their pre-existing personal relationships with their clients and prospects. Certainly at the local level, no online provider can compete with the contextual knowledge nor deliver the same type of service.

If the existing accountancy firms can communicate their expertise and stay forefront of mind whilst providing a superior service for a competitive price, then they will secure their market share for a long time to come. Those who don't get up to speed will be left for dead.