The COVID-19 pandemic and a flurry of technological innovations have changed accounting for good. The future of accounting now revolves around streamlined practices and software platforms designed to save accountants time and money while giving businesses what they need to scale.
With as many as 67% of accountants saying they prefer cloud-based accounting in the remote-working world, the nature of accounting itself will change. Sure, there will always be experts around to crunch the numbers, but new processes and policies have driven a world of innovation and automation.
Now, every interested stakeholder in the accounting field must take into account the new practices and opportunities available to them. In turn, you can secure your future as an accountant today.
Accounting in the modern era has been defined by how it adapted to the digital transformation. The many data communication and interface platforms that have emerged have given accountants power, transparency, and automation of work just in time for global trade and finances to scale for a pandemic economy. With trade and employment increasingly transcending all kinds of borders, accountants stand at the forefront of a new standard of trade.
COVID-19 only served to enhance the need for professionals who can work with numbers and the software to ensure business survivability. Even as automation of certain finance tasks becomes commonplace, we’ll never erase the need for human experts who monitor systems and problem-solve. So accounting practices have evolved to support these professionals wherever they are.
Financial technology, or fintech, is one of the most transformative areas of growth. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data come together to make powerful fintech platforms possible. In turn, these tools support accountants as they work remotely or in the office.
Here, we’ve laid out some of the most significant changes to accounting practices as the profession enters the future. From automation to remote working shifts, here are the details.
Automation is a powerful tool in saving accountants time and stress. Previously, data entry ate up a lot of the workday for financial professionals as they juggled everything from billing codes to tax obligations across various states and countries. Now, automation serves to streamline the job.
In payroll, for example, automation is a trend set to become a norm in the near future. With 92 million Americans expressing concern for payroll problems, businesses are adopting automation as much as they can to smooth over issues. This includes a payroll system’s ability to calculate employee salaries, pay them, generate invoice reports, and communicate all this with HR.
As automation tech advances, accountants will play a more active role in growing businesses since they’ll have more time to dedicate to transformational finance solutions.
Additionally, the future of accounting is likely to offer seamless solutions for professionals all over the world through the availability of software tools. These programs are necessary for getting a company’s finances in order, giving finance experts a singular dashboard for storing all vital data and insights.
Software is essential because it provides a company with transparency into all its financial metrics. In turn, this makes the accountant’s life easier when it comes to communicating information. From the income statement to the balance flow, software platforms are now capable of pulling in data from a host of systems to offer insights at a glance.
Such functionality is crucial when working in the massive gig economy, which is estimated to make up some 42% of all labor. Self-billing through a software platform takes the stress out of managing contingent workers, however. By providing resources for vendor reconciliation, payment options, batch payments, and more, accountants make their jobs easier.
These tools are the future of accounting, especially as more professionals adapt to remote work.
During the pandemic, every able business created some form of remote working policy. These have continued as workers express a desire to maintain work-from-home practices. In some cases, at-home workers even report an increase in productivity.
For accountants, too, remote working will be an ongoing commonality. This changes the nature of the job in several ways, many of which were already likely due to advancing technology. In the future, remote working accountants will have to focus on these duties to stay relevant and successful:
- Communication of financial data, advice, and insights
- Oversight of systems and workflow
- Specialties in certain industries like healthcare
These accounting responsibilities are where the field is growing. With the opening up of the job market by geography due to remote work, accountants must play to these strengths for the best opportunities.
But advancing technology isn’t the only thing that’s caused an expansion of accounting opportunities. The changing economy at large offers a lot to accountants with insight into what the future holds.
Those looking to enter the accounting field anytime soon have much to be grateful for. The changing practices and advancing global economy are calls to arms for number crunchers everywhere, meaning greater job security and avenues for growth.
In fact, accountant and auditor roles are in the top 10% of fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. and are expected to bring in 140,300 jobs by 2026, according to Career Planner. As these positions take off, every sector of the economy will turn to accountants to scale and streamline their finances.
Accountants are brought on for their expertise in managing finances towards brighter futures. As the world turns to embrace more digital solutions, accountants will act both as technology brokers and advocates for human-centric solutions for private firms and businesses.
These are some of the roles they’ll take on:
- Risks management and internal control
- Change leaders for fintech integration
- Navigators and communicators of data and AI-powered insights
The evolution of the accounting role will give accountants a more tech-focused experience regardless of the sector they operate in. Whether they work privately for a single company or work publicly with a range of clients, the impact and potential of new tools and practices ensure the adoption of software platforms.
From there, those looking to enter the field will only have to bring this expertise to whatever company they want to work for. In the nonprofit world, for example, accountants will always be in high demand due to the nuanced nature of the work. Avenues down this career path include:
- Accounting manager
- Financial analyst
- Grant accountant
With all these opportunities on the table, the outlook on the future of accounting has gone from good to better. Every sector and every industry needs professionals to integrate the systems and communicate the information that can help them scale.
From there, anything is possible.
A Future of Remote, Technical Accounting
With the power of technology and automation on their side, accountants are gaining opportunities without sacrificing the human element of their work. The future of accounting is secure — even if it is remote and more technical. This is because accountants will always be needed to humanize data, finance, and the systems that streamline them.
Accountants can even play a role in developing economically viable sustainability practices or streamlining employee payments to ensure fewer problems. The innovations and potential of the field in the future could all lead to a better, more efficient world.
To make a difference yourself, explore all that the future of accounting has to offer you.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor