Most of us are tired of being uncomfortable. We’ve spent the last two years sanitising endlessly, wearing masks wherever we go, forgoing handshakes and hugs, and maintaining social distance.
Beyond pandemic protocols, we’ve also experienced many changes – some of them uncomfortable – in the way we work. These changes have forced finance and payroll professionals to adapt to a very different, and very uncertain, business landscape.
A changing profession
The Sage Digital CFO: From number-cruncher to storyteller research revealed that finance leaders have experienced a sudden increase in the complexity and volume of their work. And while the same research shows that they are now held in higher esteem by board members, these changing expectations demand that finance leaders reinvent themselves from being number crunchers into strategic storytellers who turn financial data into real business insights.
Similarly, the pressure to keep up with the latest regulations is equally marked for HR and payroll professionals. According to another Sage study, almost half of payroll and HR professionals in South Africa believe that continuous changes in legislation and regulations drive payroll complexity. And while most (89%) understand the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest regulations, around one-third struggle to get this right.
So, where does this leave finance and payroll professionals as 2022 gets underway? With new opportunities to learn and grow.
We’ve rounded up a few of the top trends that finance leaders, accountants, and payroll professionals will need to get comfortable with in 2022. Take a look.
Get comfortable with cryptocurrency, blockchain, and digital assets
If you’re unsure of the difference between Bitcoin and blockchain, and if you don’t know your NFTs (non-fungible tokens) from your HIJKLMNOPs, then it’s time to get comfortable with them.
In 2022, finance professionals must upskill themselves in the accounting treatment of digital assets – especially the tax and legal implications that could come into play should they be regulated.
Blockchain is of particular interest to the accounting industry because it can dramatically lower the costs of reconciling and maintaining ledgers. Blockchain also provides greater accuracy around asset ownership and history. As such, blockchain will soon become an integral part of how accountants do business.
We already know that small business owners find compliance a headache, especially because legislation changes all the time. We also know that governance and compliance will get more complicated as new asset classes and payment methods come to the fore. Accountants have the chance to play a crucial advisory role, helping start-ups and entrepreneurs to better understand and manage evolving financial ecosystems.
Get comfortable with sustainability reporting
We’ve seen a significant shift in how the world views the environment and the economy in the last two years. As industry regulators, investors, and the public pressure brands to consider the impact they have on society and the planet, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) accounting will become more important. And the industry is already taking note.
The International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation has created the International Sustainability Standards Board to develop a much-needed baseline for sustainability reporting and to address a lack of consistency in this kind of reporting.
Along with the treatment of carbon credits, ESG reporting is a rapidly growing field in accounting. Financial advisers need to understand best practices so they can advise their clients on how ESG impacts broader business strategy and society.
Get comfortable with digital networking
Want to boost your accounting business in 2022? Social media is a good place to start. Not only do social networks provide a platform for businesses to keep in touch with their clients, but they are also great tools to boost brand awareness and drive sales.
Accountants can also use these platforms to showcase their expertise by writing content, commenting on posts, or sharing their opinion about issues that are particularly topical in the industry.
Get comfortable with hybrid accounting
In 2022, everyone is still talking about hybrid – hybrid cloud, hybrid work, and now hybrid accounting. As our survey results show, finance leaders need to get comfortable with being strategic business advisers and storytellers capable of turning data into narratives. This shift means that modern accountants must upskill themselves to offer a broader range of services.
This is where cloud-based accounting solutions can help.
According to the survey results:
- 91% of finance leaders agree that businesses must use cloud-based software to deliver sustainable success,
- 89% believe that cloud-based software is better than on-premise software, and
- 88% are excited to use cloud-based software.
This is because cloud solutions eliminate manual tasks, allowing accountants to dig deeper into the data and become strategic advisors who provide a clear picture of how the business is doing and where it is heading.
In addition, the Sage CFO 3.0 white paper found that finance leaders and finance teams believe that the adoption of cloud-based systems can mitigate their cybersecurity concerns – two-thirds of respondents (66%) assert that cloud-based systems are more secure.
Get comfortable with trusting technology, particularly AI
Despite 92% of survey respondents saying they would support investments in AI-powered cloud financial management solutions, AI adoption still lags significantly behind cloud adoption.
This is partly because most of us are comfortable with the cloud by now. But suppose modern accountants are to become captivating storytellers. In that case, they also need to get comfortable with AI because it allows them to analyse large volumes of data quickly and easily, unlocking a whole new level of efficiency and insights to have more impactful conversations with clients.
In 2022, accountants and payroll professionals will continue building on many trends and innovations that have recently made headlines. But the difference this year is that they will need to embrace new developments and make a conscious move to integrate these trends into their day-to-day activities.