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Accountants – The changes of roles and challenges ahead

Technological changes and innovation are progressing rapidly with the likes of Cloud solutions, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, blockchain etc. frantically knocking on the doors of accountancy. These developments are also revolutionising certain jobs and functions.

The roles of accountants, be it those in practise or in a commercial set-up, is undergoing evolutional changes, almost unnoticed. From financial statement specialists to financial analysis advisors, and even external service providers to be part of the integral company strategy advisory team. With the impact of these changes what will be the functional expectations on accountants in practise in the future?


Impact on Small and Medium Practices (SMPs)

Automation is taking over certain routines such as the mechanical functions of accountants in public practice while cloud solutions provide convenience in accessibility, reduce paper flow, real time analysis and availability of financial information for faster decision making. It has rendered existing routines of compliance work, performed by SMPs, as not creating value for clients. On the other hand, technology will improve efficiency and reduce cost which has opened doors to explore new roles and ways of interacting with clients.


What will be the future for accountants?

  • Specialisation

Accountants are no longer required to sit at their desks to do daily data entry and book keeping as in the past. Technology has successfully taken over these tasks. Accountants are now expected to be more specialised and provide their unique expertise and insights on specialised areas such as:-

  1. Taxation advisory relevant to the adopted business strategy
  2. Financial data analysis and strategy advisory
  3. Soft skills e.g. Leadership and management skills in project-driven assignments
  4. Others functions like Internal auditing etc.

These expertise may not be easily taken over by machines and has high market demand in a globalised and rapidly changing regulatory environment.

  • Collaboration instead of competition with other accountants

For SMPs not be able to specialise in multiple areas due to limited man power and resources, look for collaborations with other accountants and professionals to provide total solutions to clients. This is crucial to remain competitive.

  • Build on Soft Skills

Automation can take over routine mechanical work but soft skills are critical for businesses. An Accountant’s role should be geared more towards advisory and analysis which requires detailed presentations and great communication skills during discussions and meetings.

  • Tap on Technology

Conduct research and gain knowledge on how technology can help your operations which results in enhanced effectiveness, improved efficiency and better communication approach with clients.

Accountants must get ready and prepare for this battle. Good preparation will eliminate fears of change and, at the same time, help seize new opportunities that are bound to arise as technology continues to advance.


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