Technology is changing every aspect of our lives, both at home and in the workplace. And accountancy is no exception, where new technologies are challenging accountants to keep evolving. Clients are demanding increased accessibility, faster response times and advice over and above standard number-crunching. So we conducted research to see just how important technology is to the future of South Africa’s accountancy and small business sectors in our recent State of Accounts Report. Here’s what we discovered.
The right technology can automate mundane administrative tasks and free up valuable time in an accountant’s day. 81% of accountants say accounting software and technology already plays a crucial supporting role in their job. The question is, though, could this automated technology do away with the need for accountants entirely in the near future?
Our report shows 31% of South Africa’s small business owners don’t think they’ll need an accountant at all in 10 years. However, 30% think that technology is enabling their accountant to add more value to their business beyond the financials. This is a sure sign that accountants need to use technology better to grow their areas of expertise and offer more value. Or, they could risk extinction.
Nearly all (88%) of accountants believe that in-depth knowledge of technology and automation in the financial sector will be crucial to their future success before or by 2020. Given the rapid pace of technological advancement, there’s no time to lose.
65% of accountants think they’ll need internal training over the next five years to keep up with technological updates. While 11% of accountants are worried about the speed at which financial technology is affecting their profession, the overall mood is resilient. A further 17% are confident they can adapt their systems and processes successfully and 72% aren’t worried at all.
What to do?
The next decade will distinguish the smart accountants from the not-so smart. Accountancy practices looking to expand their services and stay competitive need to pay attention to business analytics companies with growing data warehousing capabilities. Businesses that deal in large amounts of data will keep investing in business intelligence software suites to manage their needs. And they’ll need accountants with the right level of technical skills to support them.
The business of extracting data to establish KPIs and analyse business streams is a competitive, yet ultimately very lucrative, market. Smart accountants are those who realise this now and capitalise on the opportunity to advance their consultancy services.
The future looks bright
South Africa is brimming with entrepreneurial energy. 42% of accountants think that the local business landscape is one to watch in the future when it comes to accounting innovation.
Accountants remain a valuable supplier to any modern business. However, the companies of the future, regardless of size, will need an accountant who understands their systems and needs. With the right technology and tools on your side, you can keep your practice relevant and up to date by providing a continuously excellent level of accountancy services.
For more insight into the future of the South African accounting industry, download our State of Accounts report now.