Three Challenges for Accountants in the Future

One profession that is a constant necessity is accounting. Accounting is not without its challenges however, particularly in the ever-evolving digital age we are in. There are major changes to the profession as technology continues to advance which will impact accountants on a strategic level.  There is also a rise in unqualified accountants and a trend towards consolidation. These challenges could also present potential strategic opportunities for accountants moving forward.

Competition from Technology

Everyone can see how far technology has come in recent years, making time consuming tasks automated and efficient. All it takes is one look at the tasks carried out at the swipe of your mobile phone to show how much reliance people can put in technology to operate day to day. Accounting software is no different, it has been advanced to the point that the software can run reports and reconcile accounts that would normally take time and an accounting knowledge to complete. This poses the question to business owners, why do I need accountants if the software does the work for me? While this may be a challenge for accountants, it can be seen as an opportunity to set themselves apart. Accountants need to highlight their understanding of professional standards, frameworks, and relevant legislation as well as their communication and advisory skills. Over the next decade, accountants will need to show small businesses why they are needed, and the issues that arise from relying too much on the technology to perform accounting tasks. This will help reduce costly mistakes. 

Competition from the Unqualified

The rise of unqualified accountants in recent years will pose a threat to the profession. There are no regulations preventing anyone calling themselves an accountant, even without any qualifications or training. The risk to business owners is that they will hire an unqualified accountant that will cost them in the long run due to errors and poor advise or understanding of accounting standards and relevant legislation. While technology is the main threat to reducing job opportunities for qualified accountants who have trained for years in the profession, it also can work as a tool to help distinguish the professionals from the unqualified. A professional accountant will be able to utilise the technology more efficiently and their experience and knowledge paired with the technology will show their worth when compared to an unqualified accountant.

Mergers, Takeovers & Consolidation

As costs continue to rise in all industries and professions, mergers takeovers and consolidation of accounting firms are becoming a regular occurrence. This, on paper, makes sense. Why wouldn’t they share all their resources to cut costs? But from the outside, it may not instil confidence from a customer that they are getting the best service if the firm dilutes its focus to different services. This will lead to hard work from accountants to prove to customers that the sharing of resources will only improve their service and offer more areas of professional advice under the one roof.  Despite these threats facing accountants, there is clearly room to use each of the areas to their advantage, which in turn, will lead to more professional accountants and better technology working in sync to improve their client’s business.