Considering a career in accounting? With technological advancements and artificial intelligence reshaping the industry, the profession is no longer what it used to be. Budding accountants need to be adaptable and open to the changes in this ever-shifting landscape.
Accountants should not view technology as a threat to the profession. Rather, technology should be seen as a tool that lessens repetitive tasks and frees up accountants to play more valuable roles in assisting their clients.
I have identified various factors that young people who are considering a career in accounting need to bear in mind:
Automation and the fourth industrial revolution
Certain accounting tasks are being replaced by automation and digitisation. AI is becoming more capable of handling complex accounting duties such as collecting transactions and compiling them into financial statements and tax returns. Within this milieu, the role of accountant is changing and the key-word here is agility.
Accountants will need to be agile when it comes to negotiating the fourth industrial revolution, which is seeing technology make greater leaps than ever before and fundamentally changing the way we conduct business, communicate with each other and generally live our lives.
With automation and AI taking over some accounting tasks, accounting professionals will be expected to take on more consulting roles and engage in strategic tasks to remain valuable to their employers and clients.
Accountants should build on their people and creativity skills to remain relevant in the new accounting environment.
Remote access and clients’ changing needs
Technology has also reshaped the traditional office environment with the rise of cloud computing, greater connectivity and wearable technology, which makes access to information and remotely accessing work easier.
This means accountants can operate from wherever they are, as long as they have access to the Internet. It also means that demanding clients may expect them to deliver their services 24/7.
A diverse set of skills
Accountants will need more than just accounting qualifications to contribute to a successful organisation in the new digital era.
- Tech-savviness – organisations will seek out accountants who have technical skills or who are comfortable and enthusiastic about technology.
- Flexibility – the accounting world is dynamic, which means accountants who are willing to adapt to the changing environment quickly and easily will have an advantage.
- Customer-facing skills – accountants should feel comfortable in their consulting / advisory roles and should be able to communicate with customers easily.
- Analytical skills – AI and big data can result in an information overload. Accountants must be able to glean what’s important from the data, understand the machinations of the local economy and have an excellent idea of how businesses are run to be able to give value-adding advice.