Accountants are responsible for managing the vast sums of money handled by companies, ensuring that their financial dealings are both above board and as intelligently handled as they can possibly be.
The talents needed to conduct such tasks are obviously very important, although as both large and small-scale automation and computing encroaches on the profession, accountants can no longer assume the role of a simple bean counter. With this in mind, what does the future hold for the profession?
Still a bookkeeper
One of the first things that both prospective and currently operating accountants should bear in mind is that automation shouldn’t be feared. Although many lower-skilled careers are undoubtedly being affected by automation, the use of computerised accounting software is set to benefit accounting firms more than it reduces the size of their workforce.
Automated transactions are massively speeding up the entry of data, meaning more time for analysis and decision-making, and both mobile and cloud services are currently unshackling accountants from their workstations, allowing greater levels of client outreach. Access to data on a real-time basis is also affording accountants the chance to better hone their decisions and give clients a more informed view of their accounts.
That leaves a lot more time for accountants to be creative, intelligent, and informed when giving their verdicts – a sure-fire benefit.
In the future, the small-scale accountancy profession will be able to galvanise its service offering by offering business advisor services alongside the usual contribution of financial reporting and analysis.
Being able to use the data gleaned from working with a client’s financial and tax information, accountants will increasingly be called upon to use their skills to inform and guide business’s decisions both in the long and the short-term. Small and medium enterprises will likely drive this expectation, using their accountant as a sounding board when it comes to designating sustainable business decisions on a dynamic basis.
Creating and implementing business strategies, policies, structures and means of governance will also require the input of account professionals, once again given that this information is important when deciding on which courses of action represent the best in terms of value, sustainability and risk.
Tax services have long been a mainstay of the accountant’s day-to-day, and it’s unlikely that this state of affairs will change. Across the world the tax regime is changing to keep up with innovative new platforms, businesses and corporate structures, and this increasingly muddled and as-yet-undefined world will need the skills of an accountant, not a computer program.
This service has a particularly positive outlook in developing nations, most notably African states. As these countries and their respective tax systems are adapted and bolstered for the 21st century, companies operating in these nations – both local and international – will need the high-value services of trained professionals to help them navigate new policies and developments.
The role of the accountant is definitely changing, but as technology improves, the prospects for individuals who choose to follow this career are far from terminal. For more information on this stimulating field of work, be sure to investigate GSM London’s accounting and finance course.