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Discover the future of accounting inside the Practice of Now 2020

Read the latest independent accountant research with insights from 3,000+ accounting professionals worldwide. It covers topics like client demands, modern service offerings, and technologies such as automation.

What is the Practice of Now?

The Practice of Now is vital reading for any professional who aims to overcome changes in the accounting profession. It provides guidance about what the accounting firm of the future will look like by revealing insights from today’s accountant and bookkeeper communities.

This year’s findings

Accountants and bookkeepers are disrupting their industries. We show how artificial intelligence (AI), changing regulations and a new generation entering the workforce, are all causing real change in accounting.

How did we do it?

For the fourth annual report, we:

  • Consulted more than 3,000 accounting professionals across the globe, in association with B2B research company Savanta
  • Included survey results from Coleman Parkes explaining how real businesses view the professionals providing their accounting, as well as insights about artificial intelligence
  • Asked Canadian accountants and bookkeepers about their views on the future of cloud accounting and AI and their advice for a shifting 2020 landscape

Key statistics and findings for 2020


A majority of the respondents said technology allows them to focus on their clients, or simply be more productive.


Almost half say they intend to automate repetitive, time-consuming accounting tasks, such as data entry and number-crunching.

More than half said that updating technology had improved efficiency and productivity – vital for creating space for the additional service offerings clients demand.

Download your free infographic

An industry on the brink of positive change demands accountants understand their client needs and keep abreast of technologies like automation.

  • 83% of accountants agree that new technologies and a culture of digitalisation means they have had to invest more, and more quickly
  • 74% of accountants have formally reviewed their business practices in the last 12 months
Practice of Now infographic cover image: Illustration of a man and a woman with data and reports swirling around them and the text: A profession on the brink of positive change

Advisory services

Changing client expectations, new technology, and a new generation are impacting how practices work. Of those we surveyed:

  • 79% of survey respondents are confident about providing business management and advisory services like cash flow management
  • 75% are confident about providing industry specific advice for clients, such as standard profit margins
  • 73% are confident about providing technology implementation recommendations like AI and automation

What's inside the Practice of Now 2020 report

This year’s report reveals an overwhelming majority of accountants recognise clients expect a diverse range of services and skills from them. Clients also expect accountants to understand disruptive technologies. Download the report and:

  • Learn how your practice can create growth in an industry undergoing unprecedented change
  • Understand the role of technology in accounting and how accountants respond to evolving client needs
  • Get insights into increasingly powerful technologies like automation
  • Discover what the accountant industry will look like by the end of the decade

Sage Advice for accountants

What real customers say: 3 ways to improve your practice

What real customers say: 3 ways to improve your practice

The Practice of Now survey has been capturing the thoughts and feelings of accounting professionals since 2017, and the latest version is now available. For the 2020 edition of the report, a new element was added: an additional qualitative survey from Coleman Parkes, which involved carrying out in-depth interviews with users of accountancy services. This […]

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What service offerings do clients need in a post-COVID world?

What service offerings do clients need in a post-COVID world?

There’s little doubt that, as the coronavirus disruption of 2020 continues, many accountants have been walking alongside their clients for every step of the journey. Suddenly, accountants have found themselves superheroes of the economy because the help from governments and other bodies has been primarily financial in nature. They’ve both provided and explained the data […]

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Disrupting the profession: 3 ways accountants can grow and thrive

Disrupting the profession: 3 ways accountants can grow and thrive

John D. Rockefeller infamously said: “I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.” With this in mind, accounting professionals recently felt both were thrust upon them following the coronavirus outbreak. They’ve formed the bedrock for businesses, providing advice and assisting with claims for government help. This ties in with the themes of this […]

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Accountants research from previous years

Over the last four years, the Practice of Now global accountancy survey has painted a picture of a landscape evolving to meet client needs. It’s also provided guidance for forward-thinking practices.

2019 Report

As the accounting profession prepares for the coming decade, core beliefs driving the profession should be re-evaluated.

2018 Report

With the majority of clients expecting more, two thirds of accountants are turning to AI and automation.

2017 Report

As technological advancements continue, accountants need to jump on board and harness change to bring opportunity.

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