Accountants cannot shun IT

Although possible to get away with a limited amount of technology in the past, those days are over. The message is clear: invest in IT or fall by the wayside.

From the sole practitioner to the Big Four firms, technology can offer huge advantages. These normally assume the guise of access to information.

And at the risk of sounding like a US business guru, information is power.

The traditional role of accountants no longer holds true. While in the past bread-and-butter work such as audit was lucrative, that is no longer the case. More firms are shifting their focus to general business advisor roles. PKF sells itself as ‘accountants and business advisors,’ for example.

The only way to effectively do this is through leveraging technology.

An accountant’s computers should be loaded to the hilt with useful information on their clients. Through using cheap and readily available technology, those records can be searched and acted upon in real time.

Businesses tend to trust their accountants. That trust should be utilised by offering rounded business advice. While this would have been difficult to do in the past when most of the information was held in metal filing cabinets in the basement, this no longer rings true.

This information could, and should, be a mouse click away and the technology to make this happen is here and it’s here now.

Technology is only part of the answer. An entrepreneurial approach is as important. A combination of the two is a hugely powerful weapon.

Cynicism in the technology sector undoubtedly comes from the sector itself.

Well-dressed salesmen spouting terms such as value-add, paradigm-shifting and Return on Investment do not hold much water with most accountants.

And nor should they. But the fact is, using technology in the right way can be extremely lucrative.

  • David Rae is technology editor at Accountancy Age.

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