SKILLS IN TECHNOLOGY will be of vital important for accountants in the future, with the inexorable rise of digitisation.
Four out of five (83%) accountants believe that understanding technology is as important to their job as understanding accountancy, according to a survey of 2,000 accounting professionals and SMEs by Xero.
Habits have changed since the arrival of cloud accounting tools, leading many professionals to consider data analysis and management consultancy as key service offerings they should provide. A broadening of skillsets seems a vital strategy: 59% of the SMEs surveyed said they didn’t think they would need an accountant at all, in ten years’ time.
Gary Turner, managing director at Xero, said: “Moving to digital is inevitable, no industry is impervious to change, and the message has stayed the same. ‘Accountants and technology’ is not a new subject, and technology is now the front and centre of accountancy.”
Half (48%) of accounting professionals are taking internal courses and 26% are taking external courses to adapt to new tech, with some swotting up on business intelligence. A third of small business owners cited ‘technology competency’ as the most important skill in a business adviser. Some 71% of accountants consider automation to be crucial to their success over the next five years.
“As we head into a prolonged period of technological change in the next five years it’s encouraging that many accountants see being tech savvy as a key survival skill,” added Turner.
A further 60% of professionals are confident that they can adapt to change, but 22% feel it will be so great that they might need to leave the sector.
Paul Bulpitt, head of accounting at Xero, said: “It’s an expectation for people to do everything online, that has been the major shift in the past four to five years.”
Additionally, almost half, 43%, believe risk analysis will be required for success beyond 2025, and 27% for management consultancy. However, the report highlighted that most accountants are failing to invest time in education for them and their staff to adapt to new technologies.
Turner continued: “The survey suggested that the profession needs to work harder on investing in emerging technologies, and in more effectively persuading SMBs that a close working relationship with a financial professional which will be important in years to come.”
The skills small business owners consider to be most important in a business adviser are trust (55%), attention to detail (47%) and technical competence (31%).
Clients and business advisers can now connect to small businesses through a Facebook Messenger chatbot service, provided by Xero
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