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Further changes expected in accounting in 2020

Accounting professionals will continue to face more complexity, risk and ambiguity as technology, regulatory and business transformation converge, says one accounting industry leader.

Business Maja Garaca Djurdjevic 02 January 2020
— 2 minute read

The changes in the last decade are set to continue and there are still many unknowns, said  Lielette Calleja, the founder and director of All That Counts, in her analysis of the year to come.

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She predicts that accountants will have more data available to them than ever before, which by default means that their role will change from one of compliance to one of consultation and advice.

“Technology will take care of the compliance piece and accountants will need to be skilled in analysing, interpreting and communicating information to the stakeholders,” Ms Calleja writes.

Admitting that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the change and the infinite number of options available, she said that we will continue to see profession niching across industries or specialties.

Ms Calleja explained that while many will sell the dream of being a 'one-stop' shop, many will struggle to execute and deliver.

“Firms need to harness the urge to remain relevant by accepting change and gaining professional agility,” Ms Calleja said.

“Some have already abandoned the typical image of the profession, so they are more relatable to tomorrow's client. This behaviour is not restricted to small firms as we will see the more substantial firms adopt this mindset too.”

She advised students entering the accounting profession to prepare for the challenges of dealing with constant change plus the ability to adapt and embrace new technology.

The nuances of the new accounting world

Ms Calleja is confident that accountants will survive “the media extravaganza that AI and bots would replace our jobs”, but believes that while technology will do the heavy lifting, it doesn’t mean that accountants will work less.

She predicts the following:

  • Client expectations will continue to soar through the roof;
  • Clients want their accountants to know everything from software selection to tax advice;
  • Clients are finding it harder to justify paying huge hourly fees;
  • Clients want their accountant to help them with their cash flow issues;
  • Clients want to be inspired and led by their accountant;
  • Clients wish to have more touchpoints with their accountant at no extra cost;
  • Clients want to succeed at business and expect you to help them; and
  • Clients will switch from one firm to the other easily if they don't see value.
  • Firms will want to offer a one-stop shop for all service offerings including bookkeeping, payroll, tax, CFO advisory and tech expertise;
  • Firms will struggle to find the right talent for the different service offerings;
  • Firms will find it harder to win and keep business – loyalty will only go so far;
  • Cloud technology will make it easier for clients to switch from one firm to another;
  • New legislation like STP is the catalyst for an influx of micro clients;
  • Firms need to invest in upskilling their team on products continually; and
  • Firms will do well to have a more significant focus on mental health and wellbeing.
Further changes expected in accounting in 2020
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