The Covid-19 pandemic has forced accountants to adapt to the changing business landscape, urging even the most traditional of practitioners to acclimatise themselves to this new way of working, or be left behind. As such, our Head of Services, Bridget du Toit, has identified seven global trends that will determine the success of the accountant in the future.
The shift to the cloud
The concept of utilising shared resources, including software that runs on a provider’s server, and being able to access that information in the cloud, has made accounting more accessible than ever. Additionally, cloud solutions afford accountants the ability to use virtual platforms to enable productivity, such as document scanning applications.
And while the move to a monthly cloud-based accounting software license fee can be seen as problematic to some that may be accustomed to the conventional out-right purchase of typical software solutions, there are a number of advantages to cloud computing.
Solutions such as QuickBooks Online Accountant offer accountants the ability to operate virtually from anywhere, and at any time. Perhaps, most notable, is its ability to back itself up, eliminating the stresses associated with the data recovery plans of the past. This is a particularly useful attribute in a country prone to load-shedding and power surges.
The outsourcing of accounting services is becoming commonplace amongst organisations of all sizes. This allows the business to outsource part of – or the entire accounting function – so that the management team can instead focus on core business activities.
Not only does this present opportunities for accountants to charge a monthly retainer fee for their services by leveraging their resources, it gives businesses access to experienced and qualified accountants, and ensures that their services are scalable and consistent.
Upskill with data analysis prowess
Today, information and data are key drivers of success, and instead of simply presenting financials, accountants are expected to conduct data analysis that will enable their customers to make informed financial decisions.
This is a crucial element of the business decision-making process, and one that will allow the business to not only refine processes, but become more efficient and productive.
Engage on social media
Gone are the days of simply replying on word of mouth to bring in business. Today accountants are realising the benefits of integrating social media capabilities into their business models to boost business awareness and expose themselves to new potential customers.
Technology has meant that when businesses look for services, they immediately look online. They look for reviews, likes and recommendations on social media – either from their peers or their customers. This is where the interaction is happening, and accountants who save money by moving to the cloud should consider spending those savings on implementing a comprehensive social media plan.
Stay up-to-date on accounting standards
The internet and the advent of social media has meant that instead of pouring over massive dossiers like they did in the past, accountants can keep abreast of changing regulations and standards at the touch of a button.
While the shift to online has provided immediate access to information, peer reviews and related industry insights, it has come incredibly useful in recent times. When government announced the Covid-19 Temporary Employer / Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) Directives, accountants were able to quickly access and digest the regulation amendments online.
Be proactive rather than reactive
There is an increased trend towards proactive accounting. With more accountants expected to play a role in businesses’ decision-making processes, they have to understand the potential implications of any significant business initiatives their customers might want to undertake.
This could mean, for example, determining if the business should keep its premises or retrench employees to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Accountants are expected to understand and provide input on all the possible implications of these actions.
The dawn of the ‘mobile’ accountant
Technological advancements have meant that accountants can now operate in a digital and paperless space, and are no longer at the physical beck and call of their employers.
Access to the right online software gives them the ability to perform their duties remotely, and the choice to service more customers or fewer customers in a more in-depth manner, depending on how they want to structure their businesses.
Accountants should not be scared to think outside of the box and reinvent themselves and their service offerings. When the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown began, many may have initially been hesitant to take the leap into the previously unknown, but after realising the potential and benefits of the online space and software solutions, those who did are now reaping the rewards tenfold.