I have been following with great interest the KPMG's announcement last autumn that it had invested very heavily (reportedly about £40m) in a new cloud-based service to offer accounting, tax and other services to SMEs - a constituency we'd all assumed it and the rest of the big 4 had left long behind
According to the KPMG Enterprise website, it will also offer access to one-to-one advice from KPMG "experts", with fees starting from as little as £150 per month.
It is a fascinating strategic move which KPMG must believe will be money making, but it will have to get over obvious concerns, such as that SMEs will ever get only an overly diluted version of the quality advice a FTSE 100 client can afford to pay for.
And as a small business owner myself, it would require quite a leap just to imagine that one of the big 4 could be my accountants (until, at least, Legal Futures has taken over the legal publishing world and is listed on the FTSE).
So the thought naturally occurs of whether a top law firm might ever go down the same route.
I don't suppose it will happen any time soon - if anything the top 10 are looking to become more exclusive, not less. And although one of the national firms, say Eversheds or DLA Piper, would be more likely candidates, they also seem to be looking to larger clients, not smaller. And none of the big firms would have the same name recognition/brand resonance with SME owners as KPMG surely has.
But as the big law firms focus ever more on process mapping, inshoring, technology etc, the tools that would enable a legal offering of this sort are out there. To make it happen would, however, require the kind of leap of faith and investment that I imagine very few would even be prepared to consider.
I would love to be proved wrong though - the idea that a market can be disrupted by one of its biggest and most established players is a very intriguing one. I will be keeping an eye on how KPMG's move plays out.
KPMG announced it will take on high-street accountants and the mid-tier accountancy firms that focus predominantly on the SME market, at a Business Development Leaders' Network event. Iain Moffatt, KPMG's UK head of regions, said: "This is the biggest investment KPMG has made in the SME market in the past 30 years. The small business accounting platform allows us to enter a market that we haven't previously had access to. "It's a transformational change in our business. For the first time, a Big Four firm can offer services to start‐ups and small businesses for a similar price as high-street accountants."