Monday, December 1, 2008

The end of tax advisers?

'Start the Week' this morning featured Professor Richard Susskind who was interviewed about his new book, The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services. (Extracts from the book have been appearing in the Times).

In the book Professor Susskind argues that technology and standardisation will make lawyers less important and that this is already having a major impact on the structure and future of law firms. The discussion highlighted that he considers that the same principles will apply to other service professionals. Could the same be true of accountants and tax advisers for example?

Professor Susskind contends that the market is unlikely to tolerate expensive lawyers for tasks that can be better provided through automation, low cost online facilities and the support of modern systems and techniques. He claims that the legal profession will be driven by two forces in the coming decade:
  1. by a market pull towards the commoditisation of legal services, and
  2. by the pervasive development and uptake of new and disruptive legal technologies.
Are there lessons here that are equally applicable to accountants and tax advisers? I think the answer is 'yes' and I have previously commented as to the similarities on my blog for ambitious accountants.

I'm pleased to note that Professor Susskind still considers that there will continue to be a market for bespoke advice and that many people will continue to be willing to pay for expert judgment, intuition and the application and communication of complex expertise.

After all, that's just what the Tax Advice Network is all about!

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