Book-keepers make headway as accountancy sector consolidates

The accountancy profession saw a “remarkable” net loss of about 500 firms between 2017 and 2019 after significant expansion in previous years, according to a new report from Edinburgh-based cash flow company Float.

Float boss and co-founder Colin Hewitt says book-keepers 'have never been better or more important'. Picture: Sandie Knudsen.
Float boss and co-founder Colin Hewitt says book-keepers 'have never been better or more important'. Picture: Sandie Knudsen.

The fintech found in its “Accounting for change” report that the UK saw a net loss of 490 firms after average growth of 1,212 new companies per year between 2011 and 2017 as the sector experienced increased consolidation among smaller firms and disproportionate growth at the top end of the market.

The Float report also found that book-keeping businesses remained in an accelerated growth phase, growing by 395 firms since 2017 to now amount to 6,640.

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Firms with a turnover of less than £100,000 decreased by 5.4 per cent between 2017 and 2019, to 19,890, but the number with a turnover of more than £100,000 increased by 4.3 per cent to 15,630.

Float boss and co-founder Colin Hewitt said: “Accounting firms have demonstrated their immense value during the Covid-19 pandemic, helping struggling businesses stay afloat and informing them of their financial options. Which is why many will be concerned to see the number of UK accounting firms in decline.”

But he said a lack of growth does not necessarily mean the sector is in poor health. “The UK accounting industry now has a smaller number of more profitable accounting firms, following years of growth at the lower end of the market.

“While accounting firms have seen a net decrease, bookkeepers remain in an accelerated growth phase… regular book-keeping is the cornerstone of any business’ financial data.

“Cloud accounting services, smartphones and the introduction of Open Banking mean book-keepers can scale up like never before. He added: “Book-keepers, just like their accountant peers, have never been better or more important.”

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