The accounting industry has closely witnessed the evolution of technology. For the last 50 years, accounting has exploited every new technology, be it the personal calculator, spreadsheets, or cloud computing.
Every new technology brings a change in the industry like the calculators replacing hand calculations, spreadsheets replacing paper bookkeeping, and now, cloud computing replacing desktop accounting.
To thrive in such an ever-changing industry, accountants should continuously update themselves with new technology and skills. These are the nextgen accountants who are ready to face any challenge by utilizing new technology and skills.
1. Be a Financial Advisor or Consultant
Your client’s way of doing business is continually changing. They are always anticipating – new markets, changing world economics, their income, and expenses. They need their accountant to guide them through their journey and not just crunch numbers. It is the reason why 30 percent of small businesses put accountants at the top of their list of trusted advisors.
To become a nextgen accountant, you need to change your focus from the ‘counting’ in accounting to providing solution-driven financial advice. You need to show the insights behind the numbers to the business owners.
You should help your clients in identifying which products are the most profitable, when to start hiring, and how to expand to new business locations.
To make this leap of becoming the strategic advisor, you need first to introspect and look at your core competencies. You should analyze the various type of clients and businesses that you serve and identify the ones that you serve well.
Then, you should gradually dive into the areas of your expertise and start providing more significant value advisory services.
2. Be Available Anytime, Anywhere with Cloud Accounting
Getting your accounting software on the cloud should be amongst your top priorities to transform into a nextgen accountant. Cloud helps you access your client’s financial data from anywhere in the world.
Thus, you are not limited to work only from your office. It enables you to monitor the data continuously instead of intermittent analysis. This ability helps you to be super-informed and be up to date with your client’s data.
Using cloud accounting software, you also guard yourself against the risks of data loss due to natural calamities, cyberattacks, hardware failures, etc. You can also handle clients that are located off-shore as cloud computing helps you to work on their accounts from your current location.
3. Automate The Manual Tasks Using AI And RPA
According to Forbes, by the year 2020, most of the time-consuming and tedious tasks of accounting – banking, payroll, tax, and auditing, will be fully automated.
With the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into accounting, these error-prone manual tasks will be done by machines, leaving out the managerial and analytical tasks to humans.
Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that mimics the working methods of a human. It first tracks your actions (like mouse clicks, drag, and drops) virtually, and then using artificial intelligence tries to replicate the same.
RPA can reduce the processing times of an audit from several months to just a few weeks. With automation on the way to become an integral part of accounting, it is high time for you to master managerial and analytical tasks that require a human mind.
4. Be Future Ready with Blockchain
Another emerging technology that will one day find extensive use in accounting is Blockchain. It has gained most of its popularity due to the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
It is a type of recording system that helps to ‘make’ and ‘validate’ transactions between a user-to-user network. With the use of Blockchain, businesses can make direct transactions between them, eliminating the need for any middlemen like banks, etc.
Blockchain technology is attracting the accounting business as it can help to create a new accounting ledger. It will have several advantages like the entries will get updated in real-time, be easily verified, and not get altered or corrupted.
It can help future accountants to access the real-time entries, create smart contracts, and record permanent transactions. You need not worry about this technology as, currently, it is under development, but you should keep this in consideration for your long-term plans.
5. Have a Strong Online Presence
Gone are the days when clients came through the front door of your office; now, prospect clients search for you online. They check your website, your followers and connections on social sites, read reviews about your services, and then judge whether to do business with you.
No matter how good your work in the real world is, if it is not getting recognized in the virtual world, then it’s all going down the drain.
Building a strong Internet presence should be one of the priorities of a tech-savvy, nextgen accountant. You should have a well-designed, responsive website that supports mobile platforms too. You can connect to hundreds of prospect clients on social sites by regularly sharing relevant information like blogs, journals, survey results, testimonials of happy clients, etc.
Building a strong Internet presence will reap multiple benefits for you like increased brand awareness, decreased marketing costs, richer customer experience, becoming thought leaders in the industry. All of these will ultimately help you win the trust of your clients.
It’s a no brainer to say that the accounting industry is at a crossroads, but accountants shouldn’t fear as to where it is heading. Even if robotics and full-blown automation take over the major part of the work in accountancy, still nothing can even remotely compare the capabilities of a human mind.
It is almost impossible to train a machine the analytical and inferential thinking that human accountants possess.
It is an exciting time for accountants, as there is a plethora of opportunities to learn and grow. The business needs from an accountant are changing from simple compliance checking to more advanced advisory roles.
Moreover, new tools and technologies are popping up now and then. It’s the right time for you to evolve and become an indispensable part of your client’s business strategy – their nextgen, tech-savvy financial advisor.
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