The Good, the Bad & the Ugly. of the Australian Accounting Profession. Insights BENCHMARKING REPORT AND INSIGHTS FOR AUSTRALIAN ACCOUNTING FIRMS

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1 15 The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of the Australian Accounting Profession Insights BENCHMARKING REPORT AND INSIGHTS FOR AUSTRALIAN ACCOUNTING FIRMS

2 Challenges As part of our Good Bad Ugly Survey and Insight Polls, we seek to understand what the accounting profession sees as its major challenges for the coming year. As providers to the profession, it is important for us to understand this so that we can offer awareness and assistance where possible. As a part of the profession itself, it is important for you to also understand this for these challenges often present key opportunities for improvement and competitive advantage. It s one thing to be able to identify the areas in which you are being challenged, it s another to identify opportunities and plan the necessary action in order to address these issues. The challenges present and past trends The results of the recent Good Bad Ugly Insight Poll reveal that, for the first time in seven years growth is no longer the number one challenge. The biggest challenge for the profession, as rated by accounting firms is efficiency of your firm s processes. The last time growth rated out of the top three challenges was in 2008 during the global financial crisis. Looking back at more recent Good Bad Ugly reports, a notable trend shows growth, efficiency of your firm s processes and key person dependence have consistently been ranked highly by participants as top challenges facing the profession. A more concerning result from this Good Bad Ugly Insight Poll is the identification of client fee resistance/ Challenges over the years sensitivity now as the number three challenge facing the profession. This is a significant change within the last 12 months where in 2014 it did not rank within the top 10 challenges. In our discussions and presentations to many accountants through our Good Bad Ugly forums, it seems those who have a business model which is solely compliance focussed are firms who are experiencing some fee sensitivity. Those firms who have a wealth and advisory focus are not reporting client fee resistance. Does size matter? The answer is yes - size does matter when it comes to challenges for the accounting profession. Smaller firms have identified Information technology including cloud computing as a challenge in the next 12 months. Does confusion still exist between whether a small firm should invest in an on-premise server, hosted server or alternatively run a software as a service model? As you can see from the results, firms with revenues of less than $1.5 million are looking for growth through winning new clients. Where firms above $1.5 million ranked growth in general as the key challenge in the 2016 year. It is interesting to note that firms who are billing greater than $10 million no longer require new clients, their growth challenge is introducing new services to their existing client database whilst maintaining profitability. The key is to consider what opportunities you can identify from within these challenges, and then plan how to take advantage of these for the benefit of your business PROFITABILITY PRODUCTIVITY STAFF RECRUITMENT PROFITABILITY CASHFLOW OF PROCESS GETTING NEW CLIENTS STAFF RECRUITMENT OF PROCESS CASHFLOW PROFITABILITY PRODUCTIVITY MANAGEMENT OF WORKFLOW CLIENT FEES/ RESISTANCE/

3 Challenges by revenue group $0-$500k $500k-$1.5m $1.5m-$4m $4m-$10m $10m+ INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY GETTING NEW CLIENTS INTRODUCING NEW SERVICES GETTING NEW CLIENTS PROFITABILITY Key questions: What will you invest in or do differently in the next 12 months to improve the efficiency of your firm s processes? How do you currently measure the efficiency of your firm s processes? What is your 2016 growth strategy? Do you have a documented marketing plan to win new clients? Have you implemented a client contact program to combat client fee resistance/sensitivity? Do you have a documented IT plan/strategy in place? What is your outlook for the overall state of the Australian accounting profession for the financial year ending 30 June 2016? BETTER 35% WORSE 14% SAME 51% In your opinion, which of the following will have the largest impact on the Australian accounting profession during the financial year ending 30 June 2016 (whether that impact be good or bad)? 41% 27% Changes in technology The economy 36% 27% Efficiency of your firm s processes Getting new clients 15% 15% 2% Fee pressure from clients Regulatory changes Outsourcing of work What will be the 3 biggest challenges for your firm in 2016? 26% 25% 24% Client fee resistance/ sensitivity Growth (revenue) Information technology Please rate the support you are receiving from your professional accounting body in preparing your firm for the future. AVERAGE 2.23 / 5

4 Insights The 2016 Outlook looks bright for the Australian Accounting Profession Despite client fee resistance/sensitivity being one of the top three challenges identified by the profession, participants of the recent GBU Insight Poll believe the next 12 months will be more of the same success. A majority (51%) believe the outlook for the overall state of the Australian accounting profession will be the same as last financial year. But more than one-third (35%) believe the future is even brighter predicting results to be better than the last financial year. Therefore, just 14% surveyed believe the profession is in decline and will be worse than the past 12 months. Interestingly, these firms are still predicting a 5.8% average revenue increase in the next 12 months. Changes in technology (41%) has been rated as having the largest impact on the Australian accounting profession during the next financial year. These results are similar to the 2014 Good Bad Ugly Report when the economy was a clear second behind changes in technology. Interestingly, regulatory changes have doubled to 15% of participants suggesting this will have a larger impact compared to outsourcing of work which has fallen significantly. Revenue forecasts predict 5% increase For participating firms, revenue is set to increase 5% in median terms or 8.7% on average. This is approximately a 1% increase from the year ending 30 June This GBU Insights Poll reveals the Australian accounting profession is expecting an even larger increase in revenue over the next 12 months with budgets forecasting revenue increases of 6% median results or 10.9% on average. Therefore, a telling insight from participants of this poll are very positive about the future of the Australian accounting profession. What percentage increase in revenue will you achieve in the year ended 30 June 2015? Lower Upper Average What percentage increase in revenue are you forecasting for the year ending 30 June 2016? Lower Upper Average

5 Insights 15 results $0- $500k $500k- $1.5m $1.5m- $4m $4m- $10m $10m+ The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of the Australian Accounting Profession Revenue increase 2014/15 Forecast revenue increase 2015/16 5% 6.5% 5% 4% 4.5% 10% 10% 5% 5% 4% When analysing performance across revenue cohorts, smaller firms are achieving and predicting larger revenue increases. Obviously there is more room for growth in these firms and this correlates with identified challenges previously mentioned where revenue for growth firms greater than $1.5 million is difficult. Possibly these lower revenue firms are in the start-up and growth phases of the business life cycle. More mature firms seem to be comfortable with 5% revenue increases from year to year but will this be sustainable with client fee resistance/sensitivity identified as a top challenge by these firms? Our recent Good Bad Ugly Insight Poll on Charge Rates & Pricing revealed that a majority of accounting firms pricing strategy (revenue growth strategy) is to simply increase last year s client fee by between 3%-5%. A firm profile in the 2014 Good Bad Ugly report tells of one Queensland firm who is expecting and forecasting for a 30%-40% drop in traditional compliance fees. They feel due to general client awareness and market forces providing easy access to switch providers for these basic non value-adding functions. Accounting Industry Bodies still providing POOR support One of the major gripes we regularly hear from accounting firms is the return on investment they receive as part of their subscription to their professional accounting body. Again, our latest Good Bad Ugly Insight Poll shows there is still a level of frustration due to the lack of support firms receive from their industry body. In particular, this poll was focussed on industry bodies assisting firms prepare for the future. Australian accounting professional bodies rated poor or 2.3 out of 5 (on a scale where 1 was very poor and 5 was very good). This GBU insight Poll was opened on the June 5th 2016 when the CPA announced a new wholly-owned subsidiary to provide independent financial advice to Australian consumers. Interestingly, 55% of respondents participated after this announcement with results showing a very slight improvement but still maintaining that poor ratings performance. The GBU Insight Poll did not distinguish between the industry bodies. Very Poor Poor Adequate Good Very Good businessfitness.net % 34% 32% 8% 1%

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