With so much reliance on technology, where does that leave the humble accountant? What now for your team of technical experts who have perhaps delivered services in the same way for many years? Whilst automation is expected to change 50% of accountancy and finance related jobs, the World Economic Forum estimates that it is expected to eliminate any more than 5% of roles.
Accountants, as any tax professional will attest, are incredibly resilient and adaptive to change. They are poised for growth if they can take the opportunities that will present themselves over the coming years. One way to prepare for this opportunity is to build a practice ripe for technology to work with skilled professionals in your practice.
Upskilling your practice to work hand in hand with the technology to provide an efficient practice that keeps up with the remote working regulations changes, changing client expectations. Beyond building a competitive customer experience, you will need to build a practice that keeps up with the changing expectations of individuals in the workplace, shifting social norms and values, and new types and levels of connectivity and demographics.
In the early 1990s many practices understandably put recruitment on hold throughout the recession, with many cancelling graduate recruitment programs. A necessary move for cashflow perhaps, but within a few years this created a sizeable skills gap. There was a distinct shortage of part-qualified and semi-senior candidates coming through the ranks and it is very expensive to have fully qualified staff doing the work of part-qualifieds and semi-seniors.
The synergy of accountant and machine can open doors to higher-value work, making practices more efficient, more productive, more interesting, and ultimately more meaningful.
Having the desire to work digitally creates momentum. Prioritise data analysis over data entry and valuable conversations with your clients will follow. Even with automation, the business of accountancy is still all about relationships.
Change inevitably impacts greatest on your people. Ensuring they have the skills to operate effectively in a new and uncertain landscape is always difficult. The soft skills of yesterday will become the essential skills of tomorrow. Until now you may have been recruiting people with great inter-personal skills, who quickly make people feel at ease in their company, who make great use of body language and can build rapport effortlessly. Are those people able to manage relationships as effectively over a video call as they are in person? If they aren’t, they will certainly need to.