There are some professions where skillsets do not need updating, but that is definitely not the case when it comes to accountants, especially in the technology-driven world we live in.
In fact Professor Rashied Small, executive of education and training at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) says, that we’re still applying 2005 skills in a 2020 environment.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Avika Ramdhani, director of accountants, partners and alliances at Sage Africa & Middle East, with the firm having a similar opinion.
“Technology presents an opportunity for accountants to diversify their skillsets and add more value to their clients. Knowledge of data analysis, for example, might one day be a non-negotiable skill for accountants who need to meet changing client demands,” explains Ramdhani.
Sage’s most recent Practice of Now research shows that most accountants agree that traditional accountancy training is no longer adequate and that technology is driving change in accounting practices.
The embracing of technology by accountants appears to be driven in particular by the productivity and time-saving potential it presents, with Sage’s survey showing 56 percent and 27 percent among respondents respectively.
“This is not surprising because the accounting profession is often on the forefront when it comes to adopting new technology. The calculator, spreadsheets, and cloud computing are just three examples of technological shifts that the industry easily adapted to,” she adds.
In order to stay ahead of the curve on the technology front, the Sage director highlights three ways in particular for accountants to adopt.
What to do next
The first is rather simple – staying informed and educated.
“Accountants – and accounting curriculums – have been slow to evolve business and learning models to keep up with technological evolutions. If you want to future-proof your firm, start with rethinking your business models so that you can quickly and easily experiment with and adopt new apps, software, or chatbots as they’re released,” advises Ramdhani.
The next way is one we’re all too aware of – look to the cloud.
“Cloud computing and mobile technology have revolutionised the accounting industry. If you’re not yet using these in your practice, they’re a good – and easy – place to start.” notes the Sage director.
“Cloud computing is also the foundation on which all future accounting technologies will depend, so the sooner you move your business into the cloud and the sooner you get comfortable with the idea of being able to work from anywhere, at any time, on any device, the better prepared you’ll be for whatever comes next,” she continues.
The last way requires immediate action – upskill yourself now.
“If you don’t yet have a formal training and upskilling plan in place for you and your team, consider implementing one as soon as possible. As well as keeping your practice relevant in the digital age, you’ll also attract and retain top talent by offering opportunities for personal development and formal qualifications,” says Ramdhani.
“As with all industries, accounting is becoming a predominantly technology-driven profession. Since formal curriculums can’t keep up with the pace of change, it’s up to us to ensure that we never stop learning and never stop experimenting with new tools that reduce our workloads and give us the gift of time to focus on becoming business advisors to our clients,” she concludes.