It’s been a month since Accountex 2024, the premier event for accountants, finance professionals, and bookkeepers, took place at the ExCeL centre in London.  With over 11,000 people attending over two days, this is the biggest event for the accounting profession in the UK.

Pro Drive were exhibiting for the first time and we were a little apprehensive as to how interested the visitors would be in a niche IT strategy and services business amongst the many globally recognised brands. It turns out we had no need for concern with well over a hundred accounting and finance businesses visiting the Pro Drive stand during the exhibition.  As well as the new faces and existing clients visiting us, we also made a host of new industry contacts who we can hopefully work together with in future.

Accounting IT benchmarking survey

Many of the Pro Drive visitors completed our online IT Maturity benchmarking survey, to see how their IT setup and strategy compared to that of other accountancy practices. We had a wide variety of firms completing the survey, from sole practitioners to businesses with just under 100 staff. The highest score was 87 (interestingly from a smaller firm) and the lowest was 20.  The average score was 49.5 and the median 46.5.  You can see this in the context of the IT maturity framework using the table and descriptions below.

Basic IT maturity

IT support is mostly reactive, responding when things go wrong or changes need to be made. No continual service or proactive systems improvement.  Basic levels of security such as antimalware and multifactor authentication. Key IT procedures and policies missing. No financial or strategic planning.

Average IT maturity

There is a more proactive element to IT support with ad hoc work to improve the provision of service and IT systems.  Security is more advanced and includes awareness training, some proactive monitoring and lockdown of cloud systems.  Cyber Essentials certification often achieved.  Key IT procedures and policies in place but may not have been tested or reviewed properly. Basic budgeting and IT roadmap.

Mature IT

IT has a continuous improvement process which is documented with risks and opportunities around IT being reviewed by partners. IT security is embedded in the firm’s culture with regular reviews of risk and mitigations in place. Cyber Essentials Plus, IASME Cyber Assurance and / or ISO 27001 certification in place.  There is a budgeted IT strategy that is reviewed regularly at partner level.

Based on our historical data, most Accountancy practices with 10-50 staff fall in the 45-60 range. Firms with 50-100 staff normally have a higher level of maturity and are usually found in the 65-80 range.  You can find the full report here.

If you would like to find out your IT Maturity score, click the button below.

What else was happening?

The major practice management suite software providers were all in attendance.  As usual there was plenty of advertising of cloud-based version of their software but these were either hosted desktop or web versions with very limited feature sets. Lots of smaller ‘web first’ software providers were also showing off their products with many promoting their AI assistants.

AI was being promoted in other areas too such as for marketing, customer service and sales although there seemed to be less focus on accountancy specific workflows or mentions of the new Microsoft 365 Copilot.

Of course, Making Tax Digital (MTD) featured on the agenda.  With changes being implemented by HMRC due to go live in 2026, the time is fast approaching to ensure you are prepared for it.

Exhibiting at Accountex was a great experience and we were very excited by the amount of interest in Pro Drive IT offering for accountants. We hope to see you back at ExCeL in 2025!