UK accountants embrace cloud whilst SMEs lag

Exact 2016 SME barometer praises UK accountants, near the top of the European league of cloud adoption, but only 16% of small business input their accounts online.

Over 2,000 accountancy professionals across Europe were surveyed by Exact as part of their annual survey which looks at relationships between accountants and their clients.
Survey findings for the UK show that 45% of accountants are using an online solution to administer their practices. This is more than in Germany where 35% of accountants use IT, but there is still some way to go to match the Netherlands where 60% use cloud computing.

Such a high IT take-up in the UK bodes well for HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative. However, the survey indicated that small businesses are not embracing cloud computing with the same enthusiasm as their accountants. Approximately 40% of SME’s were concerned about the disruption that MTD will cause which may explain why only 16% are currently entering their data online.

The survey asked SMEs how their accountants could improve their services to make the transition to cloud computing easier for them. Top of the list, at 21%, was the need for accountants to respond more quickly to questions, while 16% considered that their accountant did not fully understand their market sector. On the other hand, 77% respondents in SMEs were ‘satisfied’ with their accountants; this is a positive improvement on the 2015 rating and demonstrates that the profession took note of last year’s responses. No other country matched the surge in the UK rating for satisfaction.

While SMEs wanted improvements in the speed of responses, 37% of accountants indicated that they needed to improve their knowledge of IT and software. 30% considered that they lacked appropriate communication skills to engage more easily with their clients. They recognised (23%) that the accountancy profession did not always respond to their clients’ needs in a timely manner. However, 17% of accountants surveyed felt they had no need to acquire any new skills.
Summing up the responses to the survey, Gavin Fell , Exact Cloud Solutions UK general manager, said that it was clear that UK accountants were anxious to provide specialised and tailored support for their clients, rather than reacting to circumstances in an ad hoc manner.

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