As we near the last quarter of the year, it’s a good idea to stop and take stock of where you are in terms of accounting trends as you prepare to close out 2019 and plan for 2020. Tracking the trends will help you towards future-proofing your business and staying competitive in a continually evolving industry.
We look at four trends that have been prevalent in the accounting industry and are likely to continue unfolding into 2020 and years to come.
Keeping up with the cloud
In 2018, InfoTrack conducted a survey with 500 Australian accounting professionals and a roundtable of industry leaders to capture insights into how the industry and the role of the accountant are evolving. The survey found that 74% had adopted new technology and worked in the cloud. They said the main benefit was that it freed up time from the more routine, compliance and practice management tasks. Although the rate of new technology adoption was high, less than 10% reported a significant increase in revenue, suggesting that technology was not yet being used to its full potential.
The earlier you make the move over to cloud accounting (if you haven’t already), the more time you will have for the change management process, as it takes time for people to adapt to new ways of working. As they say, practice makes perfect, so the more time you have to practise, the more efficient your business will be. Who doesn’t love a good competitive advantage?
Digital record-keeping ensures accuracy and efficiency, as data is obtained directly from the source and is usually real-time. The less human intervention required, the less chance of error in data capture. Apps typically have built-in checks and balances designed to flag any issues that may arise.
Growth in machine learning
Just as humans are constantly learning, apps can also be built to learn over time as they gather data and accumulate historical activity to base their actions on. Instead of replacing humans, machines are able to take over the tasks that can be automated, to free up time for critical, intuitive thinking that only humans can do.
The apps of today are continually improving, and there will probably be many more apps to come. Given the nature of technology development, you can contribute to the improvement of apps by giving feedback to the developers. The more app users that request a feature, the quicker the developers will add it to their development pipeline as it will improve the app for all their users. You have an important role to play in directing developers towards your ideal app, as you are the only one that knows what will work best for your industry and your business.
Beyond number crunching
As more of the number crunching is automated and streamlined with technology advances, the role of the accountant has the potential to expand. With so many changes happening, business owners will need advice on how to optimise the use of technology and how to use the resulting data to grow their businesses. In order to offer this advisory service, you will need to ensure that you have the relevant technical expertise, either by upskilling your existing staff or hiring new staff. It will require both accounting knowledge and strategic insight to fulfil this function.
The InfoTrack survey revealed that many accountants have looked into expanding their services – 60% to consulting, 22% to financial advice and 20% to financial planning.
By building relationships with your clients, switching to another service provider will be less likely, as you become their trusted business advisor and new technology guide.
Optional to compulsory
The Hon. Michael Keenan MP explains the Digital Transformation Strategy, a seven-year vision working towards making Australia one of the top three leading digital governments in the world. The goal is to deliver services that are simple, personalised and available wherever you need them. The accounting industry is likely to be impacted by this strategy, as some aspects of digitisation may become legislated as we head towards 2025. Reducing fraud and making tax compliance easier are two distinct benefits of this strategy.
The InfoTrack survey found that 56% of respondents find it challenging to keep on top of the current regulatory framework at the time.
As the move to digitisation speeds up, you will have the opportunity to help your clients make the changes they need to stay up to date with legislative changes. The process of educating your clients will take time, as will managing the change in how they do their accounting and run their businesses.
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