How to futureproof your accounting firm beyond 2020
As we slowly recover from the pandemic, and firms get to grips with their new way of working, many are wondering how to better prepare themselves for any further disruption in the coming years and what the future holds for accounting.
The increased implementation of technology within the industry has been a subject of discussion for the accounting world for a while now, and with recent events it’s brought to light how important it is. Albeit relying on the global pandemic to push the industry towards a new era along was unpredictable, and knowing what the future holds is also hard to predict.
Solutions are now available, however, that can assist with safeguarding your firm, helping to make it more resilient should there be unexpected change. We’re under the assumption that the following solutions are helping to define successful accounting firms of this year, and beyond.
A report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants explains that of professional accountants and C-suite executives, 55% expect the development of intelligent automated accounting systems to have the greatest impact over the next decade.
For accountants, who have long been pulled down by mundane, manual, repetitive tasks such a bookkeeping, invoicing and financial reporting, this is good news,. Intelligent automation removes much of the legwork, offering accountants more time to focus on other more strategic roles whilst providing a better value to clients.
Don’t be worried about losing your job to a machine. Artificial intelligence and the way it handles complex data will help you raise efficiency within your job. Stephanie Weil, CEO of Accounteam, a Silicon Valley-based accounting firm, elaborates in this Forbes article:
“Having machines to do all these tedious and repetitive tasks could sound scary for many accountants because they are also very time-consuming and thus very lucrative. However, if the AI system is well configured, it can eliminate accounting errors that are generally hard to find and thereby reduce our liability and allows us to move to a more advisory role.”
With the ability to analyse large datasets with greater speed and precision compared to humans, artificial intelligence can promote higher productivity, faster turnaround times and increased accuracy. Whatsmore, significantly lowering costs is achievable with technology, by taking on tasks such as expense management, auditing and accounts payable and receivable.
By removing the administrative or data-heavy tasks from employees, firms are able to simplify and streamline operations and offer a better customer experience that ultimately drives growth.
By having AI conduct the administrative or data-heavy tasks instead of employees, a firm can simplify and streamline operations in service of a better customer experience that ultimately drives growth.
Stronger security safety measures
Since COVID-19, increased scrutiny has been placed on data protection and cyber security. Without much preparation, firms have had to adapt to remote working, exposing potential security flaws – or may have created new ones for firms not already using technology like Zoom or Slack.
For an industry that deals in sensitive data, this is of great concern, and the pandemic has meant that businesses have been forced to do business digitally and are seeing an uptick in phishing and scamming tactics. BullGuard, cybersecurity firm have included this in their recent findings:
- Just under half of SMEs do not have a cyber-defence plan in situ
- A fifth of UK and US-based small businesses are not using endpoint security
BullGuard CEO Paul Lipman outlines in an interview with Accounting Age how firms can better ensure they are protecting themselves and their clients’ valuable data. “You should be using commercial-grade anti-malware on all of the devices you use to connect, whether it’s a device that has been issued by your firm, or if it’s a personal device that you’re using to connect. It’s ultimately the last line of defence, and it’s critical that you have that in place.”
Cloud accounting software
With cloud accounting software, you can store large amounts of complex data in extremely secure data centres, routinely backed up to ensure nothing is lost and protects against unforeseen events such as power cuts or natural disasters.
Cloud accounting is fast becoming the preferred way of doing business, as it simplifies and streamlines previously laborious tasks that took up a lot of time for accountants. This, for clients means fewer visits to their local accountant and easy access to their financial data. Similarly, for accountants this means that they no longer need to spend long hours at the office, bogged down with tedious tasks like drafting reports or importing data by hand.
Adopting cloud technology will offer five primary benefits:
- Access financial data remotely from anywhere, on any device at anytime.
- Financial Information can be accessed from a central location on the internet to make it easier for clients, staff and stakeholders to collaborate on engagements.
- Financial data is stored digitally, meaning it is safe from physical dangers and human error.
- Information can be single-sourced, meaning it can be reused throughout the engagement.
- No need to worry about software updates as they are carried out automatically.
The pandemic has made the industry see that there is a need for digital transformation, and quickly. If firms are to have a future in accounting, they need to be agile and have a proactive approach to remain successful and maintain customer confidence.
If you’d like to learn more about how to futureproof your firm by implementing the latest technology, or would like further guidance on the measures required in order to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of the pandemic get in touch with a CaseWare consultant.