2020 has been the year of disruption. For the accounting and finance sector, it’s dramatically shifted how firms manage their teams, how they interact with their clients and how they plan for the future.
But despite the challenges the pandemic has caused, smart organisations and future-looking leaders are embracing the disruption and using it to their advantage. Here are five ways the accounting industry has changed in 2020.
1. Firms are managing staff entirely remotely
In addition to government-mandated rules around social distancing, proper hygiene and even mandatory masks in states like Victoria, businesses have had their traditional environments turned upside down due to COVID-19.
The accounting sector, while not as heavily impacted as solely customer-facing industries like retail and hospitality, has still had to take steps to abide by these restrictions. The largest of which is office closures – or at the very least, only a certain number of people allowed in a building at any one time.
That means firms have had to navigate the murky world of remote working with only a negligible amount of time to prepare. Some have thrived, others have struggled. But the reality is that for the foreseeable future – until the pandemic has run its course or a vaccine arrives – this way of working is now the norm.
That means firms have to equip their staff with the right tools and software to work from home and offer support from management to ensure they are getting the most out of their teams.
2. Both organisations and staff are enjoying cost savings and unexpected benefits
While remote working has been a struggle for many, it’s had positive knock-on effects in the form of greater work-life balance – although not for all – and cost savings for both employees and the firms themselves.
Staff, for example, no longer have to endure lengthy commutes and the associated costs of working in an office (e.g. fuel, public transport fees, takeaway coffees and lunches). And firms are able to do away with unnecessary meetings – which cost businesses approximately $400 billion in 2019 – while also seeing increased productivity across the board.
3. Accountancy firms are embracing cloud-based workflow solutions
If there’s one thing mandatory remote work has shown organisations, it’s that staff need to be given the right tools in order to transition to work-from-home. Not only that, but they need to be supported by their leaders.
If there’s any winner to come out of this pandemic, it’s the cloud. Businesses are accelerating their digital transformations just to stay competitive, and they are looking to cloud-based workflow solutions to help them.
For example, according to the CommBank Accounting Market Pulse – June 2020 report, accounting firms now understand the true value of workflow products for increased productivity and efficiency. It’s why “almost 60% of firms use cloud-based computing and storage”, with the same report showing cloud tools have the second-highest growth rate across firms (after cybersecurity).
4. Opportunities for hiring are expanding
Traditionally, in-house employees have made up the majority of staff numbers at firms, but the pandemic is forcing the C-suite to reassess its hiring strategies. With remote work eliminating regional boundaries, it makes sense that businesses would look further afield for top talent.
Whether that’s a Sydney firm poaching someone from Perth and not requiring them to travel across the country for a better role or looking abroad to reduce payroll while still being able to onboard and train up new staff digitally. These are exciting times for HR and hiring managers, but it’s key to approach hiring with due diligence, and in a similarly methodical way as before.
5. Firms are more wary of security threats
Greater productivity from remote workers, repetitive tasks eliminated thanks to workflow software, reduced overheads thanks to fewer people in the office – there are countless benefits to come out of the current disruption, but there are also new challenges.
For firms that are managing their clients’ sensitive data while at home or entirely in the cloud, security is the biggest risk factor. Phishing scams and identity theft are on the rise with more and more remote workers, and it’s raising alarm bells that cyberattacks and data theft could become more frequent in the months and years to come.
Firms need to use this time to bolster their cybersecurity strategies and educate their staff on what to do – and especially what not to do – when dealing with sensitive data remotely.
For a full whitepaper and detailed background to accelerate your digital transformation, download it here.
To remain competitive in an ever-changing market, firms must accept the consequences of the pandemic for what they are and learn to adapt as needed. If you are looking to accelerate your digital transformation, speak to the experts at APS about adopting a cloud-based workflow solution customised to meet your firms’ needs.