What does it mean to be a full service accounting firm?

9 min

What does it mean to be a full service accounting firm?

Running an accounting firm today means being prepared to meet new challenges. It's no longer just keeping your books up-to-date, or helping set up a new business from scratch. The accounting business has evolved, and now you need to be able to provide insight on a diverse range of issues; from cash flow management to company valuations. What does it mean to be a full service accounting firm nowadays?

Alice Bled

Alice BLED • Libeo

Published on | Updated on

what is a full-service accounting firm?

There is no official definition of full service in accounting. The term "full service" means different things to different people, but it usually refers to the ability of an accountant to provide all kinds of services for their clients. This concept does not have an exact definition; it depends on the accounting regulations in force in each country.

The full service must above all meet the needs of the manager. It can be about small business owners needing to outsource some work during the launching phase or a CEO needing a provision team to prevent potential losses in value. Or to meet the need for occasional reinforcement of administrative and accounting work during the closing of accounts, or to provide operational support in:

  • Audits
  • Compilations and reviews
  • Tax planning and consulting
  • Tax preparation
  • Valuation
  • Provision bookkeeping
  • IT services
  • Investment sales
  • Insurance sales
  • Industry specific consulting

The growing trend toward "full service" accounting has led many companies to seek out firms that can help them with more than just their accounting needs. Rather than falling into "scope creep" (a well-known plague of accounting firms), CPAs prefer to make it a full-fledged line in their service catalog. But what does it require to be a full service accounting firm?

It's all about the data

Let’s face it, when you think of accounting firms, you think of number crunching. You think of spreadsheets and charts and graphs. And while this isn’t wrong, it’s only part of the picture.

The truth is that accounting firms need to be able to provide more than just numbers if they want to stay relevant and competitive in the industry. The growth of Big Data and cloud computing has made it possible for companies to have access to more information than ever before. This means that CFOs are able to see their business from a new perspective — one that allows them to make better decisions based on real-time data.

As a result, they need accounting firms that can help them make sense of this wealth of information. Many accounting firms are already doing this by utilizing technology to automate processes, improve efficiency and increase profitability. However, there are still many firms who aren’t leveraging their data to its full potential.

  • Automating processes with software that turns data into actionable information
  • Using the power of analytics to make better decisions and provision wealth
  • Utilizing technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to automate tasks



Watch our replay webinar, get an overview of what challenges SMBs currently face and how technology can help to tackle them.

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Being able to interpret today's business information

Accounting firms have always been focused on providing financial statements, tax returns and audits. But in 2022, we’re going to see more accountants become consultants for business owners because they are able to provide advice about how to make their businesses run better.

For instance, many businesses don't realize they are growing until they are already out of space or they need help with something like a new product launch or marketing campaign. A full service accounting firm will be able to interpret the data and help their clients assess where they need to go next, so they can make better decisions in the future.

Give advice on real-world issues

Accountants may not all be CPAs (Certified Public Accountants), but that doesn't mean they can't give advice on real-world issues or help with other areas of business. At an advanced level, for example, an accountant who has taken the time to become a CPA can offer more than just tax services — he or she can also provide accounting and bookkeeping services for small businesses, as well as legal advice on how to structure a company for maximum effectiveness and profitability.

Accountants are also becoming more involved in other aspects of running a business like payroll management and IT support. Many accountants have set up relationships with vendors who can help them with these services, which allows them to focus on providing value-added services rather than just doing basic bookkeeping tasks such as invoice reconciliation and bank reconciliation.

Making use of web apps and cloud services to stay in touch with clients

To stay competitive, you need to be able to provide a full range of services that help your clients grow their businesses. That means making sure you have access to the tools that will enable you to do this. One of these tools is the cloud.

Cloud computing allows companies to store their data online, and access it from anywhere at any time. This allows for real-time collaboration on projects without having to email attachments back-and-forth all day long (which drains productivity). It also gives you access to all of your documents no matter where you are located.

Use automation to streamline routine tasks

This is where most firms start their journey toward becoming a full service accounting firm in 2022. Making use of automation saves time on low-value added tasks and helps business owners focus on high-value work like strategic planning and analysis.

Many firms already have software that automates tax filings, invoicing and other repetitive processes. The next step is automating more complex tasks like financial reporting, provision accounting solutions and client communication — both of which require manual intervention at most firms today.

Having an understanding of how the business environment is changing

The accounting industry has undergone some major changes in recent years. The most notable of these is the rise of technology and the way it has changed the way we do business. We live in a world where data is king and companies need to be able to process and analyze that data quickly if they are going to stay competitive.For example, many accountants today use cloud-based systems that allow them to access all aspects of their clients' businesses from their own computers or mobile devices.

The rise of online accounting software has changed how businesses operate. Instead of coming to your client's office once or twice a month, you can now access all their financial information from anywhere at any time. This gives you much greater visibility into how your client's business is performing and what areas need attention.

Another huge change has been in how accounting firms are structured. In the past, most accountants worked for large companies such as KPMG or Deloitte. Today, there is a lot more competition between small firms that offer more personal service while still offering advanced technology capabilities.

The full service accounting firm needs to evolve, but that doesn't mean abandoning what you do best. Just adopt the right mindset to keep up with the changing industry:

  1. Be ready for change
  2. Embrace technology
  3. Be adaptable
  4. Develop relationships

Speaking of relationships, here's one you should consider : Libeo's Partner Programme for accountants and bookkeppers. A dedicated point-of-contact offering continuous training, product vision and partner perks to stay on top of the accounting game!

scope creep in accounting


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What are the different types of accounting firms?

The most common types of accounting firms are:

  1. Personal accountancy firms - these specialise in providing bookkeeping, tax and business advice for small businesses.
  2. Business accountancy firms - these provide bookkeeping, tax and business advice for larger businesses.
  3. Taxation firms - these specialise in providing tax planning and compliance services.