As part of our news series on SMPs, we talked to Cyril Degrilart. He runs a Paris-based small accountancy practice that helps SMEs make the digital shift. Cyril is a member of Accountancy Europe’s SME Network, which brings together SMPs from around Europe to inform its SME strategy.
As a young practitioner, I have great faith in the future of the profession. Despite automation taking over conventional accounting tasks, accountants have many reasons to look forward to the future. That is especially valid for accounting practices which have taken the lead to diversify their services.
How can small and medium sized accountancy practitioners (SMPs) achieve this? More than 10 years helping SMEs digitalise have taught me 3 important lessons :
DIVERSIFY YOUR SKILLS
The accountant of the future will ensure sustainability information’s quality and exploit the company data to its fullest through data management tools. Taking advantage of technology and “make data speak” is how accountants will keep being an asset to businesses.
My main advice for European accountants is to diversify their expertise. There are many specialisation avenues such as data management or corporate social responsibility (CSR). SMEs will count on their accountants to provide reliable and essential advice to help build their business resilience. With our expertise, we can help address the evolving expectations of regulators, business partners, finance providers and societies at large.
EVOLVE TOWARDS A “FULL-SERVICE MISSION” MODEL
I strongly believe in the potential for smaller accounting practices to develop full-service missions. This means providing SME clients with comprehensive services to manage their company: business (model) development advice, management consulting, digitalisation etc.
To achieve this, we have built up our team’s knowledge of technical subjects linked to accounting, tax etc. Setting up a collaborative environment within the team also enables sharing insights. Any accounting business can make these happen, irrespectively of their size.
We have also implemented a new strategy to empower the team. Team members work on “project mode” and are involved in the design and development of new service missions. For example, we foster intrapreneurial projects around data, executive coaching and marketing strategies.
LEARN FROM YOUR FELLOW ACCOUNTANTS
It is key to learn from other accountancy professionals and build on the ideas and experiences others have accumulated. Professional accountants should meet in different forums to brainstorm and exchange insights on specific and practical topics. This also includes sharing tools, guidance and working methods that have proven their worth in practice.
With its videos, podcasts, articles, checklists and tools accountants can use to advise SMEs, Accountancy Europe brings value to its members with practical support for SMPs. In that regard, the SME Network where we exchange experiences and brainstorm between professionals from across Europe is extremely helpful.