Azets is the largest regional accountancy and advisory firm in the UK. With an unparalleled network of offices and more that 6,500 people in the UK and overseas, Azets is the accounting powerhouse to the engines of the UK economy – ambitious SMEs and owner-managed businesses.
It is, however, a fiercely competitive market, with competition from small high street practices, mid-tier and larger accountancy firms, and, increasingly, the technology providers themselves.
When Fraser Campbell, UK Head of Accounts & Business Advisory at Azets was looking to evolve and develop its offering to small and medium sized business, he turned to Meridian West for support.
“The accountancy market for SMEs is in a period of transition away from traditional face-to-face meetings towards a more modular, technology-driven model accessible at different price points,” explains Fraser. “It is a shift that is gathering pace.”
Azets, with an already sophisticated offer to its SME clients, had developed a number of hypotheses on how that offer may evolve. Fraser and his team wished to explore further client behavioural insights, pain points, and the activity of its competitors to better inform the continued evolution of its client offering and shift towards a digital delivery platform.
“The accountancy market is facing its Uber moment. The intersection of technology and accounting services and the opportunities and challenges that presents will shape the market and our own propositions.”
Meridian West was given a detailed insight into Azets proposed digital accounting proposition and target market segments, before charging them with developing a framework to validate that proposition.
Research and interviews
A large research exercise was proposed that combined a survey of over 1,300 business owners and 20 in-depth interviews where the challenges and accounting pain points where explored in greater detail.
The data identified five broad corporate client types, their appetite for digital accountancy services, potential barriers and pricing.
Data was presented to the Azets team via the Meridian West dashboard, allowing Fraser and his team to explore both the headline findings alongside a deep dive into regional and sector detail.
“Meridian West’s research brought clarity and order to this project,” explains Fraser. “Whilst we had envisaged many of the challenges and potential business pain points around a move to a digital proposition, the research showed us that some of the issues we thought important were not so important to businesses after all.
“Meridian West’s work provided the road map we needed to bring this project to its pilot stage.”
The project was to be delivered with in a tight timeframe, demanding first class project management.
“The Meridian West team are easy to work with,” says Fraser, “pushing and supporting us when needed. It was comforting to know that with Ben and his team knowing what was needed where happy to call the shots to ensure delivery targets were met.”
Azets is now piloting a digital accounting delivery platform for clients with the aim for a UK wide launch in early 2022.
Meridian West top tips
- Underpin the research with a decision grid, making sure the project stays on track and focused on answering the key questions
- Explore different kinds of segmenting clients and prospects – in this case, business lifecycle proved to the be most effective
- Ask direct, targeted questions and you will get clear, definitive responses – don’t skirt around the questions you are trying to answer
Meridian West Delivery Team
- Ben Kent – Project Director
- Jonathan Litterick – Project Manager
- Diana Aldini – Project Manager