search icon

Discover the future of accounting inside the Practice of Now 2020

Report

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 AI in accounting, changing regulations and a new generation entering the workforce, are all causing real change.

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 South African accountants how they were approaching technology investments, and suggest how this might change in times of COVID-19

Key statistics and findings for 2020

Over two-thirds of SA accountants are ready for the next wave of digital technologies, like RPA, AI and blockchain.
Over half of accountants describe themselves as early adopters who invest in tech to differentiate their services.
Practice of Now key statistic 82% icon: annulus with 87% filled and text in centre of ring: 82%
The majority of accountants say firms need to increase technology adoption.

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.

  • 90% of accountants agree that new technologies and a culture of digitalisation means they have had to invest more, and more quickly
  • 49% of accountants have formally reviewed their business practices in the last 6 months

Advisory services

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

 

  • 83% of survey respondents are comfortable providing business management advice in areas like marketing, HR, and growth modelling
  • 76% are confident about providing industry specific advice for clients, such as standard profit margins
  • 74% 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
The Practice of Now 2020 cover image - South Africa: photo of smiling man sitting at desk in front of laptop

Sage Advice for accountants

Read about the future of the accounting profession in our latest blog posts and articles.

5 ways accountants can evolve with their clients

5 ways accountants can evolve with their clients

Artificial intelligence and advanced cloud accounting software have shifted traditional accounting responsibilities from merely managing reporting, payroll, and tax returns to becoming business and financial advisors for SMEs. Both accounting firms and their clients want to grow, which means your role as an accountant needs to evolve as well. Here are five ways cloud accounting […]

Read More Read More
How accountants can better take care of their mental health and wellness

How accountants can better take care of their mental health and wellness

Accountants are some of the most important people in our society, each helping to keep our economy going. They help make sense of (and solve) complex problems on an individual level for their clients, and then connect the dots to the wider fundamental functioning of all commerce, everywhere. So, we can’t afford to lose them! […]

Read More Read More
10 ways accountants can add value to small businesses

10 ways accountants can add value to small businesses

Everyone wants an accountant’s help when tax season strikes. Few people, however, know the kind of value accountants can add outside of the systematic and detailed recording of financial transactions. Accountants can assist SMEs in numerous ways that will help their businesses grow into thriving, compliant entities. This is because today’s accountants are much more […]

Read More Read More
Digitally empowered advisors: How accountants can turn crisis into opportunity

Digitally empowered advisors: How accountants can turn crisis into opportunity

A range of events can trigger a crisis: a drought, a change in political leadership, a surge in the oil price or – as we know all too well – a virus. Crises can occur locally and remain more or less localised, as with South Africa’s recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Or, as evidenced […]

Read More Read More
Tech is replacing accountants, but their new role is much more valuable

Tech is replacing accountants, but their new role is much more valuable

In 2006, I predicted that accounting as we knew it then would be redundant by the turn of the decade. At the time, technology was starting to advance, and accounting scandals dominated the headlines. Two years later, the world plunged into a financial crisis, and the profession was partly responsible. Market for Lemons One reason […]

Read More Read More
3 questions to help accountants discover their value proposition

3 questions to help accountants discover their value proposition

I was a bit concerned when the bank called to cancel my client’s finance application meeting. What did we do wrong? What did we forget? Turns out – nothing. In fact, our reports and financials were so thorough that the bank cancelled the meeting because it had more information than it needed to grant my […]

Read More Read More
A new purpose for the accounting profession

A new purpose for the accounting profession

The words ‘accounting’ and ‘bookkeeping’ were once used interchangeably. But their respective meanings are drifting apart. As technology rapidly and unblinkingly learns how to perform routine accounting tasks, the traditional accounting value proposition of bookkeeping is being commoditised. Now, accountants, and the businesses they work for, must find a new purpose; instead of ‘balancing the […]

Read More Read More
3 Reasons why accountants should embrace AI and Machine Learning

3 Reasons why accountants should embrace AI and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have taken the accounting profession to a point of pivotal change, and it’s about to transform the way that accountants operate. AI is already great at automating repetitive accountancy tasks, which improves accuracy and productivity, and helps firms to discover hidden insights and trends that affect their clients’ businesses. It […]

Read More Read More

Sage Advisor Program

Join the accounting and / or payroll adviser program

As an Accounting Qualified Accountant, Bookkeeper or Reseller, you will get all the software, support and tools you need to win new clients, work with them in real-time and become their most trusted partner. Register for your free trial account below and one of our consultants will be in contact with you. 

Join now

Accountants research from previous years

Over the last few 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.

Sage content for accountants

Read about how to thrive in the accounting profession with our guides here.

Automate your practice and your client's businesses

See how you can improve client experience by automating your processes. You'll deliver more value to clients and avoid manual data entry, while progressing how your accountancy practice functions.

Make smarter decisions

No more uninformed decisions! Help your clients stay on top of their figures and improve planning with software that empowers you both to perform at your best.

Facing the next steps together

Join the Accountants Hub to access all the resources your firm needs to improve productivity and grow your business