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Accountants told to get 'ahead of curve' amid redundancy fears


Rather than shying away from change, one thought leader has said the accounting industry should be "participating in our own redundancy" to ensure the future of the profession and secure clients for the long term. 

By Lara Bullock 12 minute read

Delivering the keynote address at Receipt Bank’s inaugural Clients in the Cloud event yesterday, QA Business co-founder Clayton Oates spoke about how accountants should adapt their services to remain competitive.

Mr Oates, who was the first Australian to be named among the top 25 accounting thought leaders by US-based CPA Practice Advisor, said in this time of disruption it is vital that accountants, bookkeepers and consultants all embrace change.

“It’s about participating in our own redundancy and getting ahead of the curve,” Mr Oates said.


“If something’s going to impact us, we might as well be at the curve of making that impact change ourselves.”

Mr Oates reassured the audience that he doesn’t expect accountants to become completely redundant, only that parts of their current role will be taken over by technology – especially compliance-based functions.

“I’m not talking about complete redundancy of our profession; I’m talking about individual tasks,” he explained.

With this in mind, Mr Oates said, accountants should be looking at what they could be doing instead of the tasks at risk of becoming redundant.

“If that happened then what's the picture for us all? What things could we be doing?” he said.

One of his ideas is for accountants to become technology identifiers and implementers.

“You might be feeling a bit threatened about this change; then be the technology identifier and implementer,” he said.

“Be the consultant that actually enables these solutions or takes that funnel of 300 apps and turns it into a toolkit of five or six that you can roll out.”

Other opportunities include being a data concierge or a systems coach, according to Mr Oates.

He also said that the more bookkeepers and accountants can work together, the better, referring to the old Latin term 'anteambulo'.

“This term anteambulo is an old term. It dates back to Roman times, but it means 'how can you clear the way for others?',” he said.

“You think of the bookkeeper or software consultant clearing the way to actually elevate the status or the connection that the accountant can make with their client. This is a real thing,” he said.

“Keeping the client at the centre of all this, we've got the accountant and the bookkeeper and the consultant – you may wear all of those hats in your accounting firm, but if you don’t, then buddy up to actually deliver this service to your clients.”

Lara Bullock


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