Millennials have grown up – but is accountancy ready for their children?

Millennials have grown up – but is accountancy ready for their children?

To create an accountancy practice that is ready for the future, you need to get prepared for the demands of the generation who are still learning their times tables in school, predicts Steve Cox, chief evangelist at IRIS Software Group.

Millennials have grown up – but is accountancy ready for their children?

A lot has been written about how accountancy practices need to adapt to the millennial generation. The generation who, if you believe all that is said in the media, are more woke than work, and are more tech than talk.

Millennials have grown up – But is accountancy ready for their children?
Steve Cox, chief evangelist at IRIS Software Group

But would it surprise you to know, the oldest millennials, including myself, are nearly 40? So, should we instead be turning our attention to the next group, the generation Z’ers, born from 1996 to 2010?

Well yes. But my view and that of several forward-thinking accountancy practices, is we need to keep our eyes even further ahead, to the lesser-known generation alpha – anyone born after 2010.

Introducing Generation Alpha

Leading the way in preparing his practice for the future is David Jones, chartered accountant and director of innovation at Lewis Brownlee.

“Gen alpha are born into a world of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning, and big data. You might think its madness to be worrying about people who are still in primary school, but the fact is, the oldest gen alpha could be entering the workforce in as little as seven years. “

“This group of people is going to disrupt the marketplace and our practices.”

David’s point is clear. If accountancy firms are still trying to adapt to a client base and workforce of millennials, they may find themselves well behind the curve when generations z and alpha come calling.

And come calling they will, at a very early age.

It is no longer big news when a young person becomes a millionaire from a business they started while still studying for their degree. Nor are we surprised when a 16 -year old starts their first online retail operation from their bedroom.

The plethora of tools, information, and technology available means we are creating a swell of confident, capable, future entrepreneurs who will want their accountants to be able to keep up with their pace.

A recent report of generation alpha children by Beano Studios showed over half of those surveyed (55%) are already regularly creating video content, 43% enjoy robotics, and 36% partake in computer coding in their spare time.

They will not be happy to wait for two days while their accountant clears their paperwork so they can start advising them.

What Generation Alpha’s will expect

Gen alphas are going to expect interactive and responsive experiences in all areas of their life, and that includes their approach to working with an accountant.  So how can today’s accountants start getting their firms ready for the voice-enabled, robot ready generation?

“Forget sending out engagement letters and requesting passports as proof of identity. Gen alphas are going to expect checks and approvals to happen in seconds, not hours,” says David.

“They are the ‘voice’ generation – the majority live with a virtual assistant who is on hand 24/7 to provide instant answers to their questions. So, if onboarding isn’t a slick process, this could send your gen alpha client off to the competition, quicker than you can say ‘Alexa where did my client go?’”

As well as refining your current onboarding process, tailoring your services will be an essential element too. The new generation understands personalisation. They watch videos and are offered other content they might like, based on what they have been viewing.

David’s practice is already allowing clients to choose how they engage with their accountant, whether using text, WhatsApp, or more traditional channels. As well as offering advisory services tailored to their personal needs. “To sustain loyalty and trust, it will be imperative to provide a service tailored to your clients.”

And it is not just a new wave of client demands to adapt to; the workforce will be different too.

Whereas older generations may have feared artificial intelligence (AI), worrying that robots will take their jobs, gen alpha will welcome robots. They will expect them, wanting to delegate the mundane and repetitive tasks to their digital co-workers, leaving them to enjoy the more rewarding elements of their role.

They may currently still be singing Baby Shark in the playground, but very soon, a gen alpha will be your next client or talented employee. The groundwork firms put in now to streamline processes and automate the mundane will ensure you are ready to take on the next generation of clients or staff.


Steve Cox is the chief evangelist at IRIS Software Group. For more information on preparing your practice for the future visit  https://go2.iris.co.uk/IRIS-World-2020.html

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