Sewell Wallis (27)
  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago

What does the future look like for accountants?

In a recent poll, 30% of accountants admitted that they felt “not at all confident” about their future in the profession, while just 25% felt “totally confident” – a reflection of the uncharted landscape of challenges and opportunities accountants are entering. The pandemic has massively accelerated digital transformation across sectors, while organisations are also grappling with financial impacts not only from Covid but also from Brexit, the climate crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, and now the war in Ukraine. How can accountants best position their finance functions to help their organisations survive and thrive? In short, it’s about getting on board with new technologies, sustainability, and taking a big-picture perspective on the business and the workforce of the future. 1. An automated mindset Accountancy used to be 75% repetitive processing work and 25% actual advisory work. Those figures have turned upside-down as businesses automate the donkey work and look to the finance department for meaningful data analysis and forecasting. That means it’s more vital than ever for finance functions to rebrand themselves as profit-generators, not just cost-savers. The current business climate is forcing organisations to do more with less, so automating the boring parts of accountancy frees up accountants to do high-level strategic work that adds value to the bottom line. One key aspect of automation that is changing the face of accountancy is AI, which not only creates faster, more accurate, more efficient workflows, but also enables better decision-making through data-driven insights. AI-based accounting software has seen a surge in popularity thanks to the pandemic-driven rise in digital payments. Replacing time-consuming, error-prone manual payment processing with automated tools will free up accountants to focus more on timely and effective collection of payments and other receivables to keep cash flowing into the business. The past two years have demonstrated the need for finance functions and management to future-proof their organisations. Accountants are well-placed to offer advice on risks, opportunities, and actions to take to survive an uncertain future. Increased automation will allow them to provide clear visibility of cash flow, reserves, investment, and opportunities at the touch of a button, freeing up their time to add value by advising on more complex topics such as how to introduce a new digital offering or enter a new market. 2. ESG and sustainability Clients and investors are now demanding clear environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials. This might be a challenge for organisations struggling with post-pandemic survival, but is an opportunity for accountants to add value, as business leaders will be looking for auditing and guidance on improving their ESG capability. You can give yourself the edge by bolstering your own ESG credentials. Organisations like B Lab UK, a non-profit offshoot of the B Corporation that focuses on building and supporting sustainable businesses with verifiable social and environmental credentials. Signing up with them for independent verification will demonstrate to clients that you can provide them with valuable guidance on these issues. 3. Collaboration Collaboration is more crucial now than ever. Finance functions can no longer afford to be narrowly focused; accountants need to deepen and broaden their knowledge and skills. This transformation was already beginning to happen pre-pandemic. Now, just as the pandemic forced organisations to speed up their digital transformation, finance functions must keep pace and prove they can adapt to this new landscape. As the accounting profession navigates this uncertainty, one clear reality emerging from the fog is that intelligent systems can enable better business decisions, and accountants can use that to their advantage. Now more than ever, businesses need tech-savvy commercial accountants rather than old-fashioned accountants who only focus on technical compliance. Those who can seize the opportunities of this new era will reap the rewards. In conclusion… Jobs for accountants and auditors are expected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, and accountancy was ranked at No. 13 on a 2021 list of Best Business Jobs, citing strong job security and competitive pay among other benefits. Automation will never fully replace human accountants. As Accounting Today notes, accountants can solve client problems that “technology simply cannot—and will never be able to—solve on its own”. In fact, AI will bring accountants the opportunity to develop more advanced skills and to become business consultants and strategic partners rather than just financial experts. Contact us today to find out about accounting programmes you can get involved in and career opportunities that offer further education, training and professional development.

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In a recent poll, 30% of accountants admitted that they felt “not at all confident” about their future in the profession, while just 25% felt “totally confident” – a reflection of the uncharted landscape of challenges and opportunities accountants are entering.

The pandemic has massively accelerated digital transformation across sectors, while organisations are also grappling with financial impacts not only from Covid but also from Brexit, the climate crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, and now the war in Ukraine. How can accountants best position their finance functions to help their organisations survive and thrive?

In short, it’s about getting on board with new technologies, sustainability, and taking a big-picture perspective on the business and the workforce of the future.

1. An automated mindset

Accountancy used to be 75% repetitive processing work and 25% actual advisory work. Those figures have turned upside-down as businesses automate the donkey work and look to the finance department for meaningful data analysis and forecasting.

That means it’s more vital than ever for finance functions to rebrand themselves as profit-generators, not just cost-savers. The current business climate is forcing organisations to do more with less, so automating the boring parts of accountancy frees up accountants to do high-level strategic work that adds value to the bottom line.

One key aspect of automation that is changing the face of accountancy is AI, which not only creates faster, more accurate, more efficient workflows, but also enables better decision-making through data-driven insights. AI-based accounting software has seen a surge in popularity thanks to the pandemic-driven rise in digital payments. Replacing time-consuming, error-prone manual payment processing with automated tools will free up accountants to focus more on timely and effective collection of payments and other receivables to keep cash flowing into the business.

The past two years have demonstrated the need for finance functions and management to future-proof their organisations. Accountants are well-placed to offer advice on risks, opportunities, and actions to take to survive an uncertain future. Increased automation will allow them to provide clear visibility of cash flow, reserves, investment, and opportunities at the touch of a button, freeing up their time to add value by advising on more complex topics such as how to introduce a new digital offering or enter a new market.

2. ESG and sustainability

Clients and investors are now demanding clear environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials. This might be a challenge for organisations struggling with post-pandemic survival, but is an opportunity for accountants to add value, as business leaders will be looking for auditing and guidance on improving their ESG capability.

You can give yourself the edge by bolstering your own ESG credentials. Organisations like B Lab UK, a non-profit offshoot of the B Corporation that focuses on building and supporting sustainable businesses with verifiable social and environmental credentials. Signing up with them for independent verification will demonstrate to clients that you can provide them with valuable guidance on these issues.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is more crucial now than ever. Finance functions can no longer afford to be narrowly focused; accountants need to deepen and broaden their knowledge and skills. This transformation was already beginning to happen pre-pandemic. Now, just as the pandemic forced organisations to speed up their digital transformation, finance functions must keep pace and prove they can adapt to this new landscape.

As the accounting profession navigates this uncertainty, one clear reality emerging from the fog is that intelligent systems can enable better business decisions, and accountants can use that to their advantage. Now more than ever, businesses need tech-savvy commercial accountants rather than old-fashioned accountants who only focus on technical compliance. Those who can seize the opportunities of this new era will reap the rewards.

In conclusion…

Jobs for accountants and auditors are expected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, and accountancy was ranked at No. 13 on a 2021 list of Best Business Jobs, citing strong job security and competitive pay among other benefits.

Automation will never fully replace human accountants. As Accounting Today notes, accountants can solve client problems that “technology simply cannot—and will never be able to—solve on its own”. In fact, AI will bring accountants the opportunity to develop more advanced skills and to become business consultants and strategic partners rather than just financial experts.

Contact us today to find out about accounting programmes you can get involved in and career opportunities that offer further education, training and professional development.

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