Although various factors are changing the finance industry, the future of accountants and bookkeeppers is very bright. While some may think otherwise, technology is only improving work practices, making accountants and bookkeepers more efficient than ever. Through the adoption of technology, it doesn’t mean they are less important or less relevant; however, it does mean that they must adapt to the changing landscape and acquire new skills.
How do you recognize these accountants and bookkeepers who are keeping up with the times?
Being able to interpret data and share results in a clear way
Data analysis skills are needed in most business professions, especially in accounting. An accountant’s job is to determine the best type of information to use when faced with business problems and opportunities. Accountants should be able to help with predicting future problems as well as considering how decisions will be made. They will guide you on how to gain access to and create the relevant financial information that will be needed to address an issue or opportunity. It is crucial that accountants are able to leverage technology tools to recognize what information is most relevant. Data visualisation in particular can be very useful for sharing analytics and reports – it is a huge advantage and one could even argue a necessity.
Accountants also require strong communication skills. They typically sit between those responsible for data analysis (if they aren’t responsible themselves) and the company’s key decision makers. It is vital to be able to communicate information, interpret data and share results in a clear way in order to ensure there is a common understanding amongst key stakeholders in a business.
Understanding how technology enables the business for growth
As technology advances more and more rapidly, the finance industry must adapt and change – this applies especially to accountants and bookkeepers. These changes also allow for the growth and evolution of a business. Cloud technology, for example, has had a profound impact. It offers many benefits including being able to access data anywhere at any time, leveraging multiple resources, constant monitoring and backup of information and more. There are plenty of cloud-based applications available that can help improve your business.
Thanks to a well-connected digital ecosystem, accountants and bookkeepers are able to analyse data coming from multiple sources and advise accordingly. This can help business owners see what requires improvement or what is working well within their business strategy. A professional accountant or bookkeeper should be able to assist with navigating the vast ocean of available apps and choose the best combinations to run your business and streamline the flow of data. Business owners who have an overview of information and trends thanks to a solid network of apps can make strategic decisions that will help them identify strengths and weaknesses and allow them to continue to grow their business. Integrating with services and programs you already use to share data across systems makes everything easier to run.
Accounting integrations can help streamline data coming from your POS, online store and more. Accountants and bookkeepers that understand both why this software is helpful and how to use it will bring value to your business. Additionally, as they can gain access to automated reports, they will be able to provide more detailed insights in relation to the business. A good accountant or bookkeeper will always work hard to stay up to date with the latest technology trends and recommend the best apps to help create a high performance integrated digital ecosystem.
A new generation of bookkeepers and accountants is making broader technology recommendations to their clients and becoming more and more solution advisors and system integrators.
Valuing the importance of data security and sensitive customer data
GDPR and many different laws are changing the processing of personal and business information as well as its security. Accountants, in particular deal with a lot of sensitive data and information which can at times make customers and clients feel unsure or unsafe. Understanding the importance of customer data and business information and respecting security and privacy laws and policies are important issues for accountants and bookkeepers to be aware of. A good accountant or bookkeeper will understand the sensitivity of working with financial statements, tax documents and other private pieces of business information generated using different systems. They will also understand how to protect this information and ensure that your data, as well as your customers data is safe.
Moving towards the role of financial advisor instead of being just an accountant or bookkeeper
Both financial advisors, accountants and bookkeepers have similar goals for you and your business. They want to enable you to make plans, to save you money and to help your business grow. Historically however; there have been key differences between financial advisors, accountants and bookkeepers. Commonly that accountants and bookkeepers focus primarily on taxes and other finance functions such as accounts payable, accounts receivable and the creation of financial statements. Financial advisors generally have a focus on analyzing data that will help to grow your personal wealth and income through making strategic investments and decisions. Accountants and bookkeepers commonly deal with tasks such as preparing tax documents, preparing financial reports, keeping track of purchases, keeping up to date with new financial regulations and managing cash flow.
They must ensure all documents lodged with tax authorities meet the relevant rules and regulations, as well as advise and communicate these rules and regulations to clients. By contrast, a financial advisor may have a focus on helping you to budget to save money for a specific goal (retirement, university, buying a house.). These goals might be achieved through savings, estate planning, borrowing or changes in investments. Financial advisors must also communicate well with clients, stay up to date with financial strategies as well as market opportunities.
While the role of financial advisors, accountants and bookkeepers has typically been known to be very different, in recent times there has been a merging and crossover. An accountant or bookkeeper who can be flexible and holds knowledge across many fields has a lot more to offer and can greatly improve the chance for success with your business.
Staying ahead of the game by being up to date and keeping track of new technologies
Drastic, rapid changes in technology can be hard to keep up with. An accountant who keeps informed about the newest technologies can have a better overview of market trends and opportunities as well as how you can use this information to improve your business and underlying strategy. Implementing new solutions and trying new things can completely transform your business for the better.
Clients feel more secure when they know their accountant or bookkeeper is constantly on the lookout for the latest trends and will know how to advise them and point them in the right direction. Adoption of new technology can save a lot of time on things that would ordinarily have to be done manually, particularly when it comes to repetitive admin-heavy tasks such as data entry and other business functions such as running payroll.
When technology is used to free up business resources it allows more focus on value driven functions and tasks. Cloud apps, mobile apps and integrations provide accountants and bookkeepers with the ability to assist clients more readily and effectively. It also means having access to financial information on demand and in real-time, which allows for better decision making. Use of the latest technology in business offers greater flexibility, ease and freedom not only for accountants and bookkeepers, but also for clients.
The future isn’t completely predictable, but it is certain that recognizing and adopting new technologies will play an increasingly important role for accountants and bookkeepers. While more and more of these technologies exist in the cloud, it is also very important that they possess a strong understanding of the importance of security and how to protect sensitive information. Through the adoption of technology many accountants and bookkeepers have freed up time to focus on developing additional skills in other business areas which have been of great use to their clients.
Accountants and bookkeepers should not be afraid of implementing new technology and using cloud-based accounting software. It is exciting that there have been many positive impacts on the industry as a result. It is important to however; to acknowledge that this evolution is not slowing down, and neither should they.