As the accountancy world starts to return to the “new normal”, it’s essential for firms to look towards and plan for a brighter future by understanding the future trends in the profession.

Most finance and accounting professionals spent 2020/2021 helping clients weather the financial storm, overcoming internal challenges around furlough and staying up-to-date with changing government guidelines and grants.

Now, accountants must start to prepare for the future by executing long-term strategies and setting a roadmap that will allow their organisation and clients to thrive post-pandemic. 

Understanding future trends in the accounting profession and the opportunities these trends create will allow accountants to guide their firm and clients forward.

Continue reading to discover future trends in the accounting profession, including:

  • Automation to improve processes & staff retention
  • Increased demand in consultancy services and, as a result, a greater need for emotional intelligence skills
  • Cloud computing to support remote working
  • Data analytics for improved decision-making client and firm side

1) Leveraging automation for improved processes & staff retention

Deloitte’s third annual Robotic Process Automation (RPA) survey shows that 53% of respondents already implement RPA technology, and this figure is expected to increase to 72% within the next two years. Of the companies already embracing RPA, 53% are within the accounting and finance sector. 

For accountancy firms, RPA offers competitive advantages for processing and organising high volumes of data. Automating data-heavy processes reduces human errors and significantly streamlines processes to provide higher productivity and efficiency levels. Such processes include client onboarding, payroll processing and invoice filing. 

Automation also allows accountants to stop spending time, energy, or resources on painstakingly manual tasks. Research from Deloitte shows that embracing automation boosts employee morale and job satisfaction as it allows accountants to move away from transactional tasks and instead focus on higher-value tasks.

With more time, accountants can focus on tasks that require human-to-human interactions, like building and nurturing client relationships, careful analysis or creative problem-solving. Automation holds so much promise for accounting firms that more than 50% of C-Suite executives believe automation will play an essential role in shaping the future of their operations.

2) Increased demand for consulting services

Throughout the last year’s turbulence, accountants have had to take on a more supportive, consultative approach. Clients, especially small business owners, have relied on their accountants to advise on government grants, minimise financial losses and guide them through the financial crisis.

Accounting advisory services have, as a result, become more in-demand with clients wanting help understanding and interpreting financial data, identifying potential risks, and creating post-pandemic business plans. 

For example, if your client is thinking of expanding their business, they’ll turn to you for advice on aspects like how to delegate their budget and any tax relief they can apply for. You’ll likely have experienced clients coming to your for support to help them weather the financial storm the pandemic brought. 

As their accountant, you need to demonstrate a holistic knowledge of their business and offer guidance with compassion and understanding for their situation.

3) Enhanced emotional intelligence skills for better client support

Alongside the increased demand for advisory, consulting services, accountants have needed to develop a different skill set to provide a more personal approach to solving business problems.

During the heartbreak of a closed economy, redundancies and watching the world fall apart, accountants played an essential role in offering financial advice and emotional support to small business owners. Research shows that emotional support was one of the top five ways accountants supported their clients during the past six months.

Brighter days may be on the horizon, but accountants will continue to act as strategic advisors for small business owners looking to grow and scale their companies. As such, accountants will need to cultivate an ability to tune into their clients’ thoughts and feelings to support them with all the emotional ups and downs of starting and growing a business. 

4) Championing remote working with cloud-computing

As accounting firms have navigated the pandemic, cloud computing has continued to grow in popularity. Cloud computing has long been recognised for its strategic advantages such as increased efficiency, better collaboration and, of course, supporting more flexible, remote working practices.

Traditionally, accountancy firms relied on on-site servers and in-house computing systems to manage sales, expenses and store confidential information. However, cloud-based solutions offer a new way of working that allows firms to operate efficiently across different locations for at-home workers and global operations. Companies that embraced cloud computing outperformed those that didn’t by 9% in year-over-year annual revenue growth.

Cloud computing also enhances project management functions, improves internal communication and helps firms attract top talent from younger generations who want a more flexible way of working.

5) Data analytics for improved decision making

Data analytics is another future trend in the accounting profession as firms begin to realise the power of granular insights and accuracy.

While the accounting profession has always used financial insights to identify risks and opportunities and create forecasts, modern accounting software unlocks new possibilities for even greater insights with enhanced data analytics. 

Modern data analytics allows accountants to closely and accurately monitor a company’s financial performance, including cash flow ratio, invoice statuses, client retention and other data that helps them understand the bigger picture, and make better decisions — essential for navigating an ever-changing, disrupted economy. 

Accounting software like Countinup allows accountants to collaborate closely with clients that have a Countingup business current account. You get on-demand access to your client’s financial information we mentioned above so you can offer tailored advice and effective accounting services to their unique needs.

Enhance your accounting services with Countingup

Save your practice time and money on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with free accounting software from Countingup. Our software is full of features for you to review and manage client accounts efficiently, prepare journals and client taxes accurately with direct access to their real-time organised data. Find out more here.

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