In accounting, the driving shift to cloud technology as well as the emergence of the now largest generation in the workforce is disrupting the profession in more ways than one.
In the lead up to my AICPA webinar titled, ‘Are You Equipped for the Future of the Accounting Profession?’, I spoke with Jay Kimelman and Blake Oliver for a podcast featured on the AICPA website.
We discussed the state of accounting today, the change management necessary for firms to adapt to the demands of clients and millennial staff and why they need to do so in order to plan for their future.
Cloud technology is vital for attracting millennial talent
As millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, accounting firm partners need to pay attention to what this subset wants and adjust accordingly, given they need to draw this talent through the firm to be prepared for succession.
Blake, who is a millennial, knows what this generation wants firsthand. He never “did his time” in public accounting, his first career move was to start his own bookkeeping practice. He now works as a freelance bookkeeper in Los Angeles.
“I’ve never worked at a traditional firm and I cannot imagine going in at 8am every day and filling out timesheets and being billable,” Blake said. “That is the last thing that I would ever want to do at this point and a lot of millennials feel the same way, that’s a very old school mentality.”
“I think that’s the big difference that’s going on now and I see a lot of other younger accountants taking that path and saying, ‘no I’m not going to go the traditional route’.”
Cloud accounting software offers the flexibility to work anywhere, anytime and Jay, founder of cloud-based firm, The Digital CPA, agrees that firms need to implement this technology in order to attract the next generation of talent and build a plan towards retirement.
“We fully embraced the cloud, it makes it really easy to work where we are, when we are and on any device and, in order for our firm to be attractive and get more of the talent, you’ve got to have those things,” Jay says. “You have to have freedoms, the ability to be mobile and work from anywhere, anytime.”
Firms need to go think globally to thrive
Jay adds that clients are driving the push towards cloud technology, as he has observed of his e-commerce clients. He has seen geographical borders brought down because of the collaboration capabilities available on Xero’s single ledger.
“Depending on where our clients are, we work with them on their time zone so it really makes it easier on all of us – I can build my schedule around our clients,” Jay says.
“All the cashflow data is right there, it’s almost on-demand. It’s almost like you’re sitting there with them. They’re thousands of miles away and you’re doing the same work you could be doing across the desk from them.”
Blake says it’s easier to start a firm because of this globalization and access to real-time data.
“When I started my business I got my first 30 clients without even really trying, just because I was using modern technology and people wanted it so much,” Blake said. “I wasn’t advertising, I just had a website.”
The benefits of going all-in on the cloud are overwhelmingly evident. For those needing the push to make the first step so they can grow their client base and future-proof, Jay has some sound advice.
“Change is good,” Jay said. “If you’re not learning something new, you’re not able to progress and doing things the way we’ve always done them will not get us to where we need to be in the future.”
Join me for my AICPA webinar, ‘Are You Equipped for the Future of the Accounting Profession?’ where I will take a look at the past of the profession, identify trends and challenges that face it today and what kind of change management strategies firms can implement in order to be in it for the long haul. You can register here.
You can listen to the podcast with Blake, Jay and I here.