The accounting industry has seen a tremendous shake up with digital transformation - causing the skills once required of successful accountants to majorly evolve. Supplying a deep understanding of financial principles, cash management and budgeting continue to be the bedrock, but client demands and expectations have changed, with many accountants playing a larger role in helping to secure the future of a business. Access to new accounting tools and resources have further contributed to changes and a shift in expectations.
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As much as we’ve already seen growth within the industry, experts are predicting that 2022 is going to bring even more. Being aware of what’s to come will help accounting businesses adapt quicker and stay ahead of the competition.
Once upon a time, the accountant’s role was to manage the budget, keep an eye out for irregularities in the books, and ensure companies stay compliant with all state, local, and federal tax codes. Most of an accountant’s time was spent entering data and checking accuracy.
Now it’s common for companies to have their accounting agencies do a lot more, frequently expecting accountants to take on the additional role of a financial advisor. Instead of simply reporting on the facts about the budget, they will be asked to suggest actions to improve revenue and recoup losses. This will not require a whole new skill set or additional training for accountants, but it will require that they be more proactive and show a larger interest in the overall business. Recognizing trends within the company’s books, offering projections, and calling out areas of opportunity will better position accountants with their clients. Tracking this additional element of client work can benefit from a client work management platform.
Client accounting services (CAS) have grown to include greater financial responsibilities for accounting agencies. No longer just managing the books and paying taxes, accountants in 2022 will likely be asked to do a whole lot more — including transaction processing, payroll, and the preparation of financial statements — as companies look for ways to streamline their businesses.
Clients might eliminate their internal payroll team or stop using a payroll provider to instead have their accountant handle things like tracking billable hours and processing paychecks. None of this would be outside the norm for many accounting practices but it would require taking on all financial roles and responsibilities. Again, most accountants won’t need to learn new skills but they will need to be equipped to handle a larger workload, have the ability to multi-task, and adapt to the growing needs of their clients. Proper client work management continues to be key and accountants should be looking into platforms like Accelo to assist.
Automation has already drastically altered the accounting industry. At one time there was a great need for low-level accountants to handle data entry, basic arithmetic, and other repetitive tasks. Now, software has been created that can accomplish all of these tasks.
For an accounting agency to stay competitive, its staff must be fluent in all current accounting software and be able to constantly keep themselves up to date as more is released. More and more aspects of the accountant's job will likely become automated as software and AI continue to improve. A competitive edge in 2022 will be an accountant’s ability to embrace technology and demonstrate this aptitude to their clients. Having a client work management platform will add a lot of automation on behalf of the accountant and show a nice, clean portal for clients. There is a great deal of intuitive technology available through these systems, giving any accounting practice a leg up.
As the accountant's duties merge into those of a financial advisor, the use of AI-driven data analysis will become more important.
Data analytics can make previously complicated tasks a lot simpler — such as predicting trends, highlighting positive revenue streams, and recognizing areas where money is being lost. Instead of being presented with large amounts of data that you must comb through to find the relevant items, data analysis does the mining for you and condenses the necessary information into easily digestible portions. In addition, AI can learn from previous batches of data and accurately predict what will be contained in future batches.
Learning how to use data analyzing software, and the information it provides accountants with, will be crucial to success in 2022 and beyond.
Accountants are hardly alone in this. There are very few careers left where an ongoing knowledge of newer technology is not a requirement.
For accounting agencies, being tech-savvy is the only way to stay competitive. While most of the daily tasks can theoretically be done without the use of technology, they can't be done as quickly or accurately.
It has always been true that the more services and skills you can offer, the easier it is to obtain and retain clients. This will become even more true as companies look to streamline their processes, reign in budgets, and cut back on payroll numbers.
As technology and automation take on more tasks and do so quickly, accountants should take the extra time to explore new skills or offerings that will be of value. Knowing how to accurately predict financial trends and how they are relevant to your client's company is important. Learning any skill that may be of use to the financial health of clients will only be a benefit. Accountants need to be ready to offer a plethora of financial services without delay should a client ask for them. Additionally, becoming more educated on business operations, marketing, and ad campaigns can further any accounting professional.
Many accountants have expressed fear that new technology is going to destroy the accounting industry - this is unlikely to be true. While accounting in 2022 and beyond may look a bit different than it did in the past, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics still expects to see a 7% growth in the field over the next decade, the same as many other fields.
There are going to be changes in the way the job is done, however. Stay up to date on the current trends, pay attention to the predictions and be ready to evolve with the industry.
Ready to discuss these predictions further? Visit Accelo's LinkedIn to share your thoughts and industry insights for 2022.