The New Year’s Focus for UK Accountants

Everyone is used to setting New Year’s Resolutions for themselves: getting fitter or healthier, improving their work/life balance, planning to travel more…there are various areas where people use the start of a new calendar year to aim for change.

But do you do the same for your business?

Looking back to last year, are there things you could have done differently? Are there processes that could be more efficient? Could you do more to develop yourself personally or to improve your network of connections?

If improving accounting practices is on your to-do list for this year, read on. We’ll take you through some ideas for a New Year’s focus for UK accountants – and how we can help.

Emerging Trends in Accounting for 2024

There are many accounting trends 2024 is likely to bring: some of which could offer new opportunities while others may be more challenging.

Many predict that digital transformation will continue to come to the fore, with AI, cloud computing, and automation becoming more important. Could practices that embrace these digital trends give themselves a competitive advantage?

With this – and with the continuation of hybrid working – comes the topic of cybersecurity. Flexible working, the removal of geographical barriers and the implementation of new software – particularly cloud-based software – means that data protection and cybersecurity are more important than ever. Accountants will need to adopt incredibly robust cybersecurity measures to ensure that clients feel safe and that their practice remains compliant.

Others suggest that sustainability could become more of a hot topic in the accounting sector. There is a belief that as time goes by, practices will be more likely to need to demonstrate their ESG credentials: how sustainable is your practice right now?

Further potential trends for 2024 include discussions around the taxation of cryptocurrency transactions and other digital assets.

What do these trends mean for accounting practices? First and foremost, they show the importance of staying abreast of industry developments: the need for continuous learning in order to prepare for and be able to adapt to changes in the accounting landscape.

Technology and Innovation in Accounting

There has been much talk of how technology could change the face of accountancy over the coming years. Some predict that artificial intelligence could be used more and more for tasks like forecasting and data extraction, freeing up accountants’ time to focus on more complex tasks and enhancing client service.

Blockchain technology could come to the fore in areas like financial reporting and auditing, while agile accounting is another accounting trend 2024 could bring.

Integrating new technologies or leveraging new software can make an enormous difference to the way your practice operates. Technology can be deployed to improve efficiency, reduce manual processes, increase accuracy and free up your team’s time. Technology can be deployed across all areas of your business to improve accounting practices, but with so many technological solutions out there, choosing the right ones can be tricky.

Focus on the areas that you feel need the most attention: the areas that take up the most time, are the most prone to human error or could make the biggest positive impact overall. Don’t forget that ICPA members can also benefit from discounts on tried and tested tech solutions, too!

Compliance and Regulatory Updates

Among the accounting trends 2024 brings with it are changes to compliance and regulation in a number of areas.

From January 6th, the main National Insurance Contributions rate has fallen from 12% to 10%, while from April 6th, the rate will fall from 9% to 8% for those who are self-employed.

This year also brings with it the abolition of the pensions Lifetime Allowance, as well as a reduction in Capital Gains Tax allowances from April. April will also see an increase in the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage, while the Basis Period Reforms will have an impact on those who are self-employed or working in partnerships.

Staying abreast of new compliance and regulatory updates can prove challenging – but it’s necessary for accurate accounting practices. One New Year’s focus for UK accountants could be to formalise best practices for compliance, making improving accounting practices and servicing clients significantly easier.

Personal Development and Skill Enhancement

One important New Year’s focus for UK accountants is on personal development. “Personal development” can encompass a whole host of different things: it’s down to you to identify the areas you’d like to improve.

It may be that you’d like training on a new type of software that could benefit your practice. You may want to develop your leadership skills, improve your work/life balance or develop other soft skills.

Building up a versatile skill set – including both hard and soft skills – can improve not only your professional life but, in some cases, your personal life too. With the right training and development opportunities, you can improve your efficiency, increase your knowledge and enjoy a sense of accomplishment in 2024.

Networking and Community Building

Networking is an area that’s often neglected by many accountants, but it’s well worth investing time in. Done right, it’s a great way of improving accounting practices in a number of ways.

Attending conferences and other industry events can help you to learn new things, stay up-to-date with industry trends and regulation changes, and introduce you to both accountancy peers and potential clients.

Networking within your local community can increase awareness of your business, attract potential clients, and cement your practice as a company that gives back to the area.

Never underestimate the power of social media networking, either. Whether you’re creating educational long-form posts on LinkedIn or offering advice in relevant Facebook groups, increasing the size of your network and building up a community could bring significant benefits for relatively low effort and cost.

Why Join ICPA: Benefits for the New Year

Doing things differently can seem like a daunting prospect. Improving accounting practices, though, need not be a solo task.

ICPA is here to help. Our members benefit from all sorts of resources and support, from advice lines and tax library access to insurance, software and numerous industry discounts.

We’re also here to help you enhance your professional growth through regular networking events and webinars covering a range of topics – helping you to meet like-minded individuals while enriching your own knowledge.

Join the ICPA today for these benefits and more – or give us a call to talk through the package that’s right for you.

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