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The future of accounting is already here, and its certainly is not static. The fact of the matter is that technology in accounting has led to the financial transformation that businesses so desperately need to take a hold of if they wish to remain relevant and competitive. This being said, technology is ever evolving and expanding, which means that emerging accounting technology should remain at the top of your mind as a leader in your business. 

Let’s take a look at current (and expected) trends in accounting that are undoubtedly helping to shape the skills and demand for accountants in the future.

Trends Impacting the Future of Accounting

Automation software, data analytics and similar improvements in accounting technology have helped to eliminate the need for manual and repetitive tasks that have historically been a time-suck for accounting teams. 

With this shift, CPAs and finance departments have adopted high-level roles that have the knowledge, skill and foresight to aid in key business decision-making. 

Here’s a look at the big trends that you must be aware of:

Accounting in the Cloud

Big data was once costly to securely store as it was protected by on-premise databases. With the advent of cloud computing, businesses can leverage the power of big data without the downsides of having to purchase and maintain personal servers. Furthermore, working in the cloud grants immediate access to important information and resources exactly when someone needs it. 

Cloud computing lends itself to continuous access to information, so financial analysis can be performed on an as-needed basis, without ever having to skip a beat or suffer from downtime in being able to access pivotal data. 

Accounting Automation

One of the most notable trends which has led to the financial transformation that most accounting teams are experiencing has come from accounting automation. Accounting automation software works by way of robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning to manage time-intensive activities in accounting. 

Automation can be applied to several facets, including: banking, payroll, tax preparation, account reconciliation, audits and more. Rather than your team having to manually prepare reports or review data, the software tool can minimise processing times, maximise efficiency and reduce errors. This frees up your human resources’ time to focus on high-value tasks. 

Blockchain

Blockchain has made headlines in the past and it’s not expected to stop anytime soon. The technology of blockchain allows for a computer-based recording system to verify transactions. Although it has been most commonly alluded to within the world of cryptocurrency, blockchain can be utilised within accounting to create ledgers that are innately verified without the risk of corruption. 

Many big accounting firms have already implemented blockchain technology (i.e. Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and Ernst & Young). Blockchain allows for real-time access to ledgers, transactional recording and smart contracts seamlessly. 

Data Analytics

With big data (information) comes the need for understanding (insights). Data analytics refers to the practice of cleaning, transforming, inspecting and modelling data to reap conclusions. These conclusions are then used to make the best business decisions possible given the information at hand. 

With the mass amounts of data flowing into a business at any given time, it is crucial to utilise software solutions that are capable of collecting and transforming data in a timely manner into useful dashboards and reports to give more and clearer insights across the business.

This way, key decision-makers are able to leverage information that matters and review the data to move forward with more informed actions. Having the most efficient and accurate data analytics tools also reduces finance workloads, and increases their productivity.

What is the Future of Accounting Jobs & Skills? 

Given the broad array of accounting technology that is aiding CPAs in performing at their highest potential, the future of accounting and its required skill set is undergoing changes, too.

Take a look at some of the skills and useful mindsets that will prove beneficial for CFOs and accountants moving forward: 

  • Soft skills: A lot of accountants once feared that automation would usher them out of jobs. Instead, accountants have found that the addition of technology is making their job easier and less error-prone, while also allowing for them to prioritize more important tasks. Since automation can fulfill many technical needs, accountants can now focus on their ability to manage and communicate within their organisation’s internal and external environments. This calls for an increased need for soft skills. 
  • Operations management: With data analytics and a deeper understanding of an organisation’s financial standing, accounting teams have the power to boost organisation-wide efficiency and perform process improvement. Of course, having a technical understanding of financial impacts and outcomes is still needed in this realm. But overall, accountants can play a role in designing processes that are aimed to push profits higher. 
  • Business acumen: Accountants are more and more becoming strategic advisors. As such, they need to understand the business environment in which their organisation operates - potential opportunities, relationships, risks, etc.  
  • Change management: The accounting teams that will have the greatest impact will be those who are able to welcome change and apply innovative technologies in a steadfast manner. 

Accounting Technology Changes on the Horizon 

At the very core of accountancy is the ability to be a beacon of necessary financial information and impart knowledge that stakeholders seek. While this won’t be changing any time soon, the methods by which accountants accomplish the latter will continue to be expedited by way of technology. 

The increased use of artificial intelligence and automation will aid in the efficient use and accuracy of big data. Furthermore, blockchain technology will likely grow in popularity across accounting departments, both big and small. 

With the technological innovation, regulations will most probably take shape and shift to cover all the bases to protect customer information and ensure best business practices take place. Having an accounting software that you trust will make it easier to adhere to changing regulations and amend processes in real-time, without suffering from downtime or roadblocks. 

Increased Opportunities from Diverse Accounting Expertise

With the aforementioned advancements, there is a lot of opportunity to be found in the field of accounting. Accountants who are currently practicing have the potential to increase their technological understanding by implementing accounting automation software, giving them greater expertise and increasing their performance and productivity. 

Recent graduates entering the field of accounting can focus on soft skill development at the same time as they hone their technological acumen. The field is swaying towards the need for soft skills as technological advancements can manage the technical skills — faster, safer and more accurately than manual labor ever could. 

Fundamentally technological advancements enables finance to move away from the repetitive error prone tasks they hate, to high value adding, insightful analysis that drives business decisions.

Accounting as a Launchpad & Future Proofing Careers 

With all the changes impacting the industry, accountants and finance leaders may be wondering how they can future proof their teams careers. While every accounting team and individual can go about this in their own way, it’s best to keep an open mind and be willing to learn new things. 

Accounting technology is here to help, not hurt you in your daily duties. By expanding your knowledge and understanding of such tools, you can gain flexibility in your role and provide even more impact to the organisation. 

Additionally, being an expert in accountancy can lead to various other positions in management and leadership. An understanding of accounting and its practices sets the foundation to succeed in any type of business environment, especially when compounded with the right automation solutions. 

Accounting Firms Need to Evolve

It’s worth it to reiterate the following: automation and technology are NOT replacing accountants or human resources. Rather, these accounting tools are augmenting potential and expanding the reach of accounting departments within organisations. As such, to capitalise on potential, accounting firms and departments need to evolve and stay up-to-date with the latest technology so they don’t get left in the dust. 

The ability to leverage data and transform it into actionable insights is easily doable with the right software solution by your side. Given your team’s accounting experience and a software solution’s expansive abilities, organisations can benefit from timely information that leads to smart decisions. 

The Bottom Line 

The future of accounting jobs has experienced change due to technological innovations like accounting automation, big data analytics, blockchain and cloud computing. 

When accounting teams are proactive and open-minded to deploy new technologies within their work environment, finance can achieve more. Along with it, your organisation will be able to decrease risks, boost security, lower costs, and optimise productivity.

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