Most of the accounting process can now be automated, thanks to advances in cloud computing, HR, payroll and financial software, and artificial intelligence. In fact, technology has made accounting so simple that someone with little to no financial knowledge can balance a business’s books with relative ease.
This is not to say that technology has made accountants redundant – far from it. In fact, technology has made accountants even more valuable because it’s fundamentally changed their relationships with their clients, to one of consultant and trusted advisor.
These days, businesses rely on their accountants to guide them on everything from forecasting, to understanding market trends and financial strategy. So, while technology crunches the numbers, accountants have more time to learn the skills that will put them in high demand.
These are some of the biggest trends shaping accounting today and how you can leverage them to become better at your craft.
Everything in the cloud
In minutes – and at little cost – businesses can access easy-to-learn and easy-to-use cloud-based accounting solutions that empower them to manage their finances from anywhere, on any device.
Tip: If you’re still using spreadsheets in your accounting practice, it’s time to upgrade to cloud-based solutions. With smart functionality and automatic compliance, you’ll get the bread-and-butter stuff done quickly so that you can spend more time understanding and advising on your clients’ businesses and challenges.
Accounting used to be a manually-intensive process, requiring the capturing of every transaction and receipt. Now, this can be done automatically and with few errors, giving businesses a real-time overview of their financial health. Modern solutions also link directly to a business’s bank account, running automatic screen scrapes and importing transactions directly into the software.
Tip: Embrace automation. With less time spent on manual tasks, you’ll have more time to research your clients’ industries, trends, and regulations. They’ll appreciate any advice you share on upcoming risks and opportunities.
With automation comes artificial intelligence, which helps businesses uncover patterns in their information to make better predictions about future financial and market performance. Once the domain of data scientists, chatbots like Sage’s Pegg can churn out useful information in response to simple questions like, ‘Who owes me money?’
Tip: Don’t be afraid of AI. Learn how to use the tools and data to help your clients meet their financial goals. People don’t yet trust bots completely and still want advice from a human.
The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) requires accountants to protect their clients’ information. Those accountants with European clients will also have to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Tip: Prepare for POPIA now and make data security a habit among your team. Educate them on the importance of accurately processing, storing, and deleting client information. Accounting firms have access to critical client information – and cybercriminals know this. Make sure your systems are secure and that all data is encrypted.
Technology is changing the accounting role and we’re heading for a hybrid partnership, where humans and machines work together to best serve clients.