Did you know that 83% of accountants believe investing in the latest technology and digitisation is necessary for remaining competitive?

Embracing modern technology unlocks significant benefits for accounting firms, whether it’s finding new, more efficient ways of working or delivering better services to small business owners. Technology allows accountants to achieve more with less, provide outstanding services and help fuel business growth. 

Long gone are the days of accountants dedicated wholly to crunching numbers, sorting large piles (or shoeboxes) of documents and spending all day behind immersed in a ledger book. Manual accounting processes are being replaced with highly efficient and specialised accounting technology. 

These systems make it possible to complete once manual processes in a fraction of the time while eliminating human errors and freeing up accountants to focus on more value-adding tasks.  

Keep reading to learn more about:

  • How technology is changing the accounting industry
  • Some of the emerging technologies in accounting
  • Benefits of embracing accounting technology
  • How your firm can prepare for a technology-embedded future

How technology has changed the accounting industry

Traditional accounting processes are slow, labour-intensive and prone to errors. Manual processes also lead to high staff turnovers as most don’t want to spend all day, every day, completing tedious tasks.

Replacing manual processes with digital solutions is crucial for your firm to stay competitive, attract top talent and deliver superior services.

COVID-19 pandemic has drastically disrupted traditional ways of working and opened new opportunities for digital transformation. While many firms were aware of the advantages of digital solutions pre-pandemic, today, there’s a significant cultural shift towards embracing innovative technology. 

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technologies with an increased demand for remote working and flexible procedures that champion collaboration from any location. 

By embracing accounting technology, accounting firms can unlock significant advantages and gain a competitive advantage — making digital transformation one of the driving factors for the evolution of the accounting profession.

Popular accounting technology

When it comes to selecting the right technology for your firm, it can be challenging to understand all the different options. Research shows that accounting firms are investing in technology like advanced and predictive analytics (21%), automation including RPA (20%), and Artificial Intelligence (20%).

Big data & data analytics

Advanced data analytics and big data allow accounting professionals to access in-depth insights into their firms and clients’ performance to forecast upcoming challenges and opportunities and reflect on past decisions. Data analytics also helps accountants get granular data on your firm or clients’ overall status with the click of a button, so you can present financial performance in a new light and help small business owners make better decisions.

Automation and RPA

Accounting firms are increasingly choosing to automate manual processes using Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Embracing RPA allows firms to optimise operations, minimise human error and spend more time nurturing client relationships. When surveyed, over 50% of C-level executives reported that they expect automated accounting systems to become the norm in the accounting industry.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is also becoming increasingly popular amongst accountancy firms to optimise processes for bookkeeping, invoicing, tax management and more. Research from the Journal of Accountancy shows that 80% of executives believe that AI gives them a competitive advantage, while 79% say that AI improves their firm’s productivity.

Benefits of technology for accounting profession

Technology offers many advantages to accounting firms, especially in a post-pandemic world. 

Championing remote, flexible working

With most accounting firms working remotely over the last year, it’ll be challenging to return to an office-only mentality. Nearly all of the UK’s top 50 accounting firms plan to offer hybrid working in the future, with employees spending half their week at home and half in the office.

Accounting technology supports this approach by helping accountants collaborate remotely and flexibly. Eradicating the office commute means that accountants can work more efficiently and tailor their working patterns to their and clients’ needs.

Enhancing workflows for greater productivity

One of the major impacts of technology on the accounting profession is its ability to streamline workflows, improving efficiency and productivity. Automating accounting processes removes manual tasks, like handling large volumes of data, to help accountants manage a more significant workload by focusing on higher-thinking tasks. 

With AI and RPA taking tedious tasks like onboarding clients, accounts have more time to spend on creative problem-solving or nurturing client relationships. 

Offering higher-value services without increasing costs

With remote working, new ever-changing government schemes and support packages, and geopolitical issues like Brexit, clients have turned to their accountants for guidance. Accounting firms have had to cope with bigger workloads, fewer resources and external challenges. Technology allows firms to move away from crunching numbers to focus on providing strategic business advice and delivering higher-value services without increasing costs.

Developing more efficient and cost-effective business models

Accounting technology also helps accounting firms gain a competitive edge and levels the playing field to make it possible for smaller firms to compete against industry giants. By digitising business procedures and how you process and store data, accountants have greater bandwidth to focus on areas where you can add the most value, increase profitability and deliver best in class services.

3 ways to plan for the impact of technology on the accounting profession

  1. Review current workstreams. Start by reviewing your firm’s internal processes to identify areas for improvement. Look at your past year’s performance, where you encountered issues and where you need to make changes. 
  2. Create a digital transformation strategy. Before you invest in accounting technology, it’s important to establish expectations and objectives. A digital transformation strategy will set your roadmap and stay ahead of the competition.
  3. Upskill existing team members. Embracing innovative technology requires your team to have the right skills to take full advantage of these new opportunities.

New tech to help you save time and better manage small clients 

Start saving your practice time on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with Countingup’s free accounting software, built specifically to help you manage your self-employed and sole trader clients.

The app automates time consuming bookkeeping admin for your clients so they can focus on running their business – and send you accurate, structured data to work from. With instant invoicing, automatic expense categorisation and cash flow insights, your clients will be able to confidently keep accurate bookkeeping records everyday.

Countingup’s accounting software is MTD-compatible and full of features for you to review and manage client accounts efficiently, with direct access to their real-time organised data. Find out more here.

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