The number could be up for traditional accountants who refuse to embrace disruptive tech and changing customer behaviour.

That’s the view of Gary Coombs, chief operating officer at Crunch Accounting, which claims to be the UK’s first online accountancy firm.

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in disrupting the accountancy sector and traditional players need to adapt if they want to future-proof their business.

Crunch combines in-house accountants who are available on-demand with simple online accounting software. It was established in 2007 and has since become one of the fastest-growing accountancy firms in the UK, employing more than 180 staff at its offices in Brighton.

The company generated fee income of £8.1m in its latest financial year, a rise of nearly 18 per cent from 12 months earlier.

Coombs joined the Brighton-based firm in January 2016 as technology and programme director and is now chief operating officer, where he creates the company strategy and works towards delivering future visions.

"Traditional working practices are not the same anymore and accountancy is a sector that has to keep up," Coombs told BusinessCloud.

"The world's changed very much now; we’re all working at different times, we’re switched on at different times and the ideas you have come at different times in the day.

"People don’t necessarily just need to speak to an accountant within office hours.

online accounting

"They need to know that they’ve got the technology that can help them understand what they need to do, how to run their business and make sure they’re doing things the right way, and that’s what we’re trying to do here at Crunch."

Crunch’s client base primarily consists of entrepreneurs, contractors and freelancers, with personal referrals responsible for 50 per cent of its business.

"If we’re not getting our service right, that’s going to have a direct impact on the number of sales we make so it’s really important that we carry on investing and understanding how we can continue to optimise and improve the way we work," Coombs said.

Coombs told BusinessCloud that technology is becoming an increasingly big part of the industry and "can’t be ignored".

"There’s always going to be certain people that are not going to want to embrace it but the majority are embracing it and they’re not working in the same traditional way anymore.

"It’s going to be interesting to see how that evolves and we’ll be there to adapt."

Coombs added that initiatives such as HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) will see the need for digital records and more frequent filing.

“The industry as a whole cannot ignore that, and will need to change and adapt. Access to data is also a key opportunity in the sector.

"There will of course continue to be more opportunities for use of AI to optimise the way people run their company accounts."