The skills accountants will need more of in 2019

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Our careers are constantly evolving with the technology that impacts our lives. For accountants, their lives once revolved around handwritten ledgers, yet lately, accounting has grown to incorporate various software and technical aspects that all in the field will need to be knowledgeable on to progress.

The use of specialised accounting software has increased the accuracy of the accountant and reduced their margin of error, but with it has required those in the industry to learn the skills applying a more commercial assessment of accounting information. The move is from processing to commercial acumen. Automation, artificial intelligence, and accounting software are just some of the elements that are likely to impact the world of accounting.

Here is a look at how Accounting can adapt with the changing Technology:

  • Less basic training and more strategic training – Accountants are no longer the number crunchers that we all perceive them to be. Through technology, accounting has diversified to include developing new processes, performing future forecasting and providing general financial advice (Florida Tech). With automation, training for number crunching is less critical than analysing and relaying the results from that data to the clientele.

  • Information Technology (IT) skills – With accounting technology progressing in areas such as cloud computing, data storage, signature software, and QuickBooks, IT skills should be increasingly focused on. You may not be required to learn HTML/CSS coding languages but staying up-to-date on technological advancements will become required. Additionally, an accountant’s ability to apply strong technical skills (e.g. VBA, SQL) and information management skills (Tableau and Power BI) is becoming more common.

  • Mobility – With software such as QuickBooks, Xero, SnapTax, TurboTax and Cloud Storage, the days where smaller companies require an in-house accountant in the SME market are limited. With freelancing and contract work becoming more and more prominent, adapting to this trend may become necessary. Freelancing allows access to a global pool of clients in a variety of industries. This can be highly beneficial to accountants and results in an increasingly diversified work setting.

  • Soft skills – Technology and automation cannot compete with a person’s ability to interact and provide a personalised solution that the client/business feels comfortable with. Giving a client peace of mind is something that can only come through human reaffirmation. Automation (and eventually AI) may handle the numbers, but it is the individual who compels the client to act. Soft skills such as communication and customer service will become high priority moving forward. As technology brings increased automation of compliance-based services, accountants will have more time to spend with clients. This increases the need to learn how to analyse data for business insights as well as the ability to communicate those insights to clients (Journal of Accounting).

Artificial intelligence, automation and other technological advancements are changing the accounting landscape. Here is a look at what to expect in the future:

Decentralised work and virtual office spaces – As technology improves communication and more data goes into cloud storage, physical office spaces are becoming increasingly redundant. As stated above, the freelancing workplace is emerging. (Right Networks) Technological changes – Artificial intelligence is slowly creeping into accounting software and applications, likely impacting data application. Blockchain also poses great benefits to accountants, with capabilities to reduce the complexity and difficulty of audits. Cloud Hosting and security – In a world that is increasingly utilising cloud storage for data records, keeping client information safe and secure will become a top priority. Knowing how to appropriately use this technology will become vital.

How Accountants can adapt with the Change

The key to every change is adapting with it, technology is a flowing river, you can either float along with it or remain left behind in the past. As accounting moves towards further technological advancements, so should you. Luckily, online platforms such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning and Code Academy offer cheap, do it yourself courses to remain up-to-date on industry knowledge and learning new technology skills.

Automation doesn’t cancel out the need for accountants, if anything, it makes their role more efficient and simpler. The human element of providing peace of mind will be relevant for the foreseeable future.