Embracing Technological Change in Accounting
Professions across the board undergo significant transformations when new technologies enter the scene. However, few professions are as profoundly impacted by technology as accountants.
The advent of computers and accounting software revolutionized the accounting industry. Today, the nature of accounting work is vastly different from what it was a few decades ago. Pencils, green bar paper, and printed ledger books are now relics, more likely to be found in a museum than in an office.
And the changes brought about by technological advancements are far from over. Embracing and preparing for these changes will lead to healthier accounting departments and more efficient workflows.
The Impact of Technology on Accounting
Accountants do not adopt new technologies simply for the sake of being trendy. Instead, they embrace them because they offer tangible benefits. Computers and accounting software provide a better and more efficient way of doing business.
According to the London School of Business & Finance, technology dramatically enhances the accuracy of financial books compared to manual methods. Accounting software guarantees precise calculations, eliminating the risk of mathematical errors compounding throughout the balance sheet.
Moreover, accounting software simplifies the process of organizing data for audits and reports. It provides decision-makers with instant access to financial information, resulting in increased efficiency throughout the organization.
The Future of Accounting in the Digital Age
As artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent, it will significantly impact the accounting world. Maryville University highlights several technologies on the horizon that will shape the future of accounting, including:
- Additional automation: Accounting software will automate many labor-intensive tasks, such as tax document preparation, chart of accounts management, and payroll processing.
- Cloud software: On-premises accounting software installations will become obsolete, replaced by cloud-based software that allows for continuous data updates and software upgrades.
- Blockchain technology: Accountants will need to understand blockchain, which ensures constantly updated and corruption-free accounting ledgers. Blockchain also serves as the foundation for cryptocurrencies.
- Customer service: Clients will expect real-time financial updates from their accountants. Technology enables up-to-the-minute calculations, ensuring accountants provide the most current information to their clients.
- Increased-level analytics: With technology automating many time-consuming tasks, accountants will have more time to analyze data. They can provide clients with predictive analytics based on the accounting outcomes.
The Changing Role of Accountants and Future Challenges
You may have noticed a decline in the number of people entering the accounting field. The shortage of accountants is a concerning trend. Factors contributing to this shortage, according to the Controllers Council, include:
- Earlier retirement of older accountants with insufficient backfilling from new hires.
- More students pursuing specialized accounting degrees, resulting in fewer general accountants available for the workforce.
- Concerns that technology may make the accounting profession obsolete, dissuading potential candidates.
- Young professionals opting for more exciting career paths, leading them away from accounting.
To combat the shortage, businesses are turning to technology to automate tasks, reducing the need for a large number of accountants on the payroll.
Preparing for the Future of Accounting
In light of these challenges, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) suggests several strategies for accounting departments to thrive:
Expanding Roles within the Organization
Accountants can utilize their training and expertise to serve in valuable support roles across various departments within the organization. By interpreting accounting results for executives and assisting in strategic decision-making, accountants can provide significant contributions beyond traditional accounting tasks.
Rethinking Training Methods
The IFAC believes that professional organizations and educational institutions must revise accounting training methods. Rather than relying solely on university education, continuous training is essential. Accountants should develop a versatile skill set that encompasses emerging roles within the organization, including financial analytics and business intelligence skills.
Embracing the Changing Landscape
To remain prepared for the constant evolution of accounting, staying informed about emerging trends is crucial. It is important to accept and embrace the likelihood of disruptive changes. While automation may reduce the need for traditional accounting tasks, accountants will continue to play vital roles within businesses.
So, let go of your pencil and embrace the future of accounting powered by technology. It may be different, but it opens up exciting opportunities for accountants in the next five years and beyond.
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