UK SME's Demand That Their Accountants Process All Their Documents Online Within 24 Months, New Survey Reveals

London - 21 October 2011

Over a third (38%) of UK SME's now expect their accountants to process all their documents digitally within the next 24 months, a new CCH, part of Wolters Kluwer, survey reveals.

The client-driven 'expectation' also shows that 73% said they wanted to send at least half of their information to their accountant in this way.

SME's are migrating many of their business functions online to save time & money, with sales, purchasing, marketing & recruitment all now firmly established as online activities.

The trend continues with 'professional' activities such as insurance, banking & accounting.

Banking was the single most popular online business & accounting function, with 60% of respondents performing at least some banking online.

Simon Crompton, head of CCH Software, said: "As the appetite for - and use of - online systems grows, particularly among a younger generation of entrepreneurs, SME's are emerging as the driving force in the adoption of new technology. Accountants need to ask themselves - and their clients - where their own clients stand on this issue.

"Although some are happy to carry on accessing accounting services in traditional ways, it's unlikely the majority will be prepared to do this indefinitely. Our survey suggests we've already reached a tipping point, with three quarters of SME's expecting to supply their accountants with a minimum of half of all documentation electronically within two years."

Accountants are responding with 44% of SME's saying their accountant provides at least one online service, whether accepting scanned documents by email or enabling them to enter data directly into online bookkeeping or accounting systems. Among SME's who don't already do so, expectations are high with that their accountant will offer these services within two years.

"The good news for professional accountants," continues Simon, "is that 'going online' isn't a single event. Whether that's introducing software to manage incoming and outgoing emails, creating a secure client portal for online collaboration or setting up an online accounting system, the impetus is to establish your credibility to show clients you understand their concerns and you're moving in the same direction."

Encouragingly, 31% highlighted 'integration with my accountant's system' as a key benefit.

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