Blog No 43 – The Future of Accounting

Last week we looked at the history of Accounting. This week we look at the future of the profession from my perspective.

The Future of Accounting

The ongoing evolution of technology means the role of the Accountant and Bookkeeper continues to change. The traditional bookkeeper is unfortunately one of those occupations to be replaced by robotic intelligence and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology in the future. In other words the data input into your financial ledgers will largely be automated.

The future is also clearly uncertain for traditional compliance focussed Accountants and Tax Accountants of traditional Accounting practices with ongoing automation of these tasks reducing the work required. The ATO is playing their part in simplifying and automating the lodgement process and integrating the data from our computer systems into the Taxation Office systems.

This is seeing the shift of traditional Accounting practice service offerings towards more advisory services, although the lack of experience and the ability of such practitioners to provide such services is brought into question. As an example, the Virtual Part-Time CFO offering that some practices are starting to offer is being offered by personnel in those practices who have not even been a CFO or Accountant from industry. The hands-on experience of industry accountants is far different from the experience of a public practice career tax accountant. So be careful when looking at such advisory services.

The modern accountant in business is a more strategic and value-add focussed professional who uses the base information generated from the ‘books’ as a source of data on which informed management decision making can be based. Partnering with businesses remains key.

Outsourcing and The Future of Accounting

A trap modern accounting practices are falling into is the trend of outsourcing and offshoring basic compliance and bookkeeping work to cheaper countries. This traditional training ground for local graduate accountants is being lost meaning there are fewer local graduate opportunities. This sets the scene for a skill shortage in the future for mid-level Accountants and the next generation of business Accountants over the coming 20years in my view.

Conclusion

The future of the Accounting profession continues to be disrupted by technology. In my view, the Accountant of today is a very different professional then the Accountant of the future. Data and analytics will become more and more important and the profession must continue to evolve to stay relevant in the changing landscape.

Ross – Billson Advisory

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