Technology skills ‘vital’ for accountants

Monday 5 December 2016

There are many facets to working in the accountancy sector as the industry adapts to rapid changes in technology. 

The continued reliance on the internet and the development of flexible working have helped to create more efficient ways of working for independent professionals, allowing them to choose their own projects and carry them out with their own resources.

A new study by Xero has found that four out of five (83 per cent) accountants think understanding technology is as crucial to their role as understanding accountancy. 

Due to new cloud accounting tools, many experts are turning to data analysis and management consultancy as key service offerings. Some 59 per cent of respondents said they did not believe they would need an accountant whatsoever in ten years.

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.”

What new skills do accountants need to learn?

In order for independent accountants to properly grow as professionals, it is important they adapt to the changing environment and become more dynamic employees. 

Some 48 per cent of accounting professionals are taking internal courses and 26 per cent are taking external courses to learn new technology. One-third of small business owners said that “technology competency” as the most vital skill in a business adviser. 

As well as this, 71 per cent of accountants believe automation will be key to their success in the coming five years. 

Mr Turner went on to say: “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.”

Some 60 per cent of professionals are confident they can adapt to change, though 22 per cent believe they may have to leave the sector as a result. 

On top of this, 43 per cent believe risk analysis will be needed for success after 2025, while 27 per cent think management consultancy will be crucial. 

“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,” Mr Turner explained.

By Victoria McDonnell

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