News in brief: accountants, digital, competition, tradesmen

News in brief
News in brief

Accountants being drawn in to personal finance problems

Nearly two in four (36%) accountants have experienced an increase in demand for advice about personal finance from clients in the past 12 months with help on inheritance planning one of the major sources of inquiries.

According to high net worth retirement lending adviser Bower Private Clients, this could lead to accountants exceeding their professional expertise. Nearly a third (31%) of accountants say they are worried that some of the advice they are giving goes beyond their core expertise. Worryingly 6% of accountants said they have provided detailed financial advice themselves.

The research showed that nearly half (45%) of accountants believe their work with independent financial advisers will increase over the next 24 months as a result of recent changes to pension rules.

Richard Branson to speak at SME conference

Sir Richard Branson has been announced as the keynote speaker for Sage’s upcoming conference for entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Over 20,000 entrepreneurs from around the world will meet in Chicago, IL on July 25-28 to share their passion for business, life and helping others. Branson will share the passion that ignited his amazing journey from DIY magazine publisher to one of the world’s biggest titans of industry.

CEO of Sage Stephen Kelly commented, “We are thrilled to host Sir Richard Branson as our marquee keynote speaker for Sage Summit 2016. This is the largest event for the world’s small businesses and entrepreneurs, and I know they will be inspired and energized by one of the world’s most successful and passionate entrepreneurs. The businesses we champion, these true heroes of the economy, will leave Sage Summit with new ideas, new knowledge and new energy to drive the next phase of their success.”

SMEs must remain competitive in the digital age

The vast majority of UK employees believe that their businesses will no long be competitive by 2020 as a result of new technology.

That’s according to a new “Beyond Digital” report, launched today by digital experience consultancy Infomentum. Key amongst the report’s findings is that 91% of employees do not believe their businesses will stay competitive over the next five years, with 50% stating that firms will have to invest in new technology in order to keep up. At the same time however, there is a feeling of unease that surrounds these technologies, with many firms simply “jumping on the bandwagon” rather than strategically considering which tech will and will not work for their wider business goals.

It’s not just businesses that are behind the times. Infomentum’s report also highlights the need for UK workforces to prepare for significant changes over the next five years. As new technologies come to replace a significant proportion of manual jobs, 61% of employees expect their own professions to become increasingly automated by 2020.

Tradespeople feel confident, but face immense pressure

Confidence among contractors and tradespeople is at its highest level for three years, with 48% having a good feeling about the year ahead.

ECIS’ Annual Healthcheck of the UK’s contractors and tradespeople seems positive at first, but despite this optimistic outlook there is some strain on the workforce – 41% of respondents claimed that their business was under increased pressure to fulfil contracts.

Reflecting the increased demand for their skills, many tradespeople saw their work/life balance tip heavily towards work in 2015. The survey found that over a quarter of tradespeople regularly worked evenings and weekends in 2015 with 60% saying they had felt more pressure to do so in the last year.

But despite working longer hours, shockingly, 58% had to turn work away in 2015, and more worryingly, 38% confirmed they had resorted to unskilled labour to help fulfil contracts.