How is technology changing the accounting profession?
Technology is leaving no stone unturned with the passing of each day, driving change across a myriad of industries. This is especially pronounced in the way we work, and the accounting profession is no exception.
According to research by McKinsey Global Institute, as cited by a 2016 PwC report, the digitisation of jobs is still in the very early stages, even for companies that are at the forefront of digital spending.
It said that accountants should be skilling upwards to negate the risks of obsolescence. Citing recruitment firm Randstad Singapore, it said as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and present in all aspects of businesses, accounting professionals can expect a shift towards more strategic and analytical roles.
Studies suggest that accounting jobs are most at risk from automation in the next 20 years, as such, it’s clear that accounting professionals need to adapt to new approaches or risk falling behind. And this entails upskilling to ensure they are equipped with the skills that would allow them to embrace digitisation in the workplace.
Accounting professionals need to develop a wide skillset
In accounting, many routine and repetitive tasks can be done more efficiently through technology.
AccountancyAge explained that technology and digital-led skills are becoming essential to the industry, particularly as advancements in automation are out-pacing less–flexible employees.
“To counter this, firms will continue to seek out digital natives who have a grasp of RPA [robotic process automation] and basic IT skills, who are able to grow with the firm as technology evolves,” it said.
Digital prowess will continue to be essential in 2020, so it’s worth enhancing your skillset in the area if you haven’t already.
In a separate article, AccountancyAge said experts from across the field believe that 2020 will be a transformative year as more accountancy firms use both RPA and AI within their practices. This will affect the roles that accountants need to play in the industry.
They add that employers are becoming less focused on degrees and university grades, choosing instead to promote qualification-driven programmes for school leavers and career changers. “With 82% of accountancy firms open to hiring a candidate from a non-traditional background, the industry is diversifying both its background and skillset,” it said.
Despite that, it’s worth noting that qualifications will be essential for accountants who want to move into higher-paid roles.
Technical skills aside, soft skills like creativity, communication, negotiation and leadership will also become crucial in 2020 as employers are looking for employees who can do what robots cannot. Other skills like problem-solving and critical thinking will also become essential.
“Now, more than ever, accountants need to be a master of several trades and understand other departments, even if they do not work directly in that field,” said the report.
Other general tips for staying relevant in the workforce, as shared by ACCA, includes keeping abreast of industry trends and being ready for the possibility of a role-change, constantly seek out opportunities to learn – whether by taking on new responsibilities with your existing employer/clients, or putting yourself forward for training opportunities, or seek out skills courses, and grow your network.