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Working in the dark ages

Posted 2 weeks ago in Advisors by Damon Anderson
Posted by Damon Anderson

The future for the accounting industry is one of opportunity and new direction. If technology is utilised intelligently, it can help shape what the new mould of an accountant or bookkeeper looks like. And it will be those progressive accountants’ responsibility to set the trend for newcomers to follow in the face of an industry that is undergoing a massive shift as a result of automation and machine learning.

So what does that new role look like? We know that accountants are better placed than anyone to forecast financial trends and analyse data to maximise the output of a business. So their business IQ and credentials should be respected and used in the form of an advisory role – a trend that is still growing today. Yet this still isn’t happening across the board, with many still struggling to find time to take on new responsibilities. Why? Because the majority of accountants are still working in the dark ages.

It’s smarter to embrace automation

Our Digital or Die report shows that a large percentage of accountants still take on tasks themselves where automation and modern technology could easily streamline the process. For instance, 61% still manually reconcile bank transactions, 51% still manage and process finances, and 25% still correct data. All of these tasks and more can be processed through intelligent, affordable technology, and what’s more, business owners are now expecting this of their accountants. Over nine-in-10 (94%) want their accountants to use the latest technology, which means that they have to adapt soon or risk becoming an outdated employee for the company.

Automation not only helps create a more time-efficient workflow, it reduces the margin for error – as data entry errors, losing receipts and mathematical mistakes are all listed as the top three errors in manual practice. In fact, we researched digitally proficient firms that said, as a result of adopting modern technologies, they generated up to 34% more revenue per employee last year. So why do two thirds (64%) of accountants say they know of someone still working in the dark ages? It’s because transition takes time.

Ahead of the curve

If you have ever come across the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, you’ll know that ‘innovators and early-adopters’ (16% of the population) take the first step in a trend, followed by the ‘early majority’ (34%). It’s interesting, then, that our research shows a quarter (23%) of accountants consider themselves ahead of the curve. The industry is closing in on fulfilling the ‘early majority’, and with Making Tax Digital around the corner there’ll be even more incentive for accountants to learn the fundamentals of working in the cloud. We believe we’re now at the tipping point of AI being generally accepted in the workplace.

Change is a process, and the good news is that it’s not too late to convert. Better yet, it’s not too late to be a part of the early majority.

To explore our findings in detail and discover further insights, download the report here.

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