AI (Artificial Intelligence) concept of a digital globe ghost over a business womans head

The 2017 Practice of Now report found that 38 per cent of accountants asked saw emerging technologies as the biggest threat to their profession. (metamorworks/Shutterstock)

Accounting | The Profession

Embrace the future and evolve your accounting practice with these 5 strategies

Emerging technologies and rising client expectations are key factors in building a successful, sustainable practice

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The accounting profession is facing unprecedented challenges as the global business landscape becomes ever-more driven by technology and data.

With innovative projects such as CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession, we’re encouraging Canadian CPAs and stakeholders to join this growing discussion and collaborate on how we can continue providing the best possible service for our clients.

In a similar vein, a new survey led by UK-based The Sage Group conducted research with 3,000 accountants from around the world to share insights on their practice. Drawing on inspiration from that survey, here are five ways you can evolve your business for the future based on The Practice of Now 2018 report:  

55% plan on using AI in the next three years. 

Delegate to artificial intelligence

AI can improve efficiency by automating the number crunching and data entry tasks that steal hours out of your work week, but its potential to help your business may run far deeper according to Kriti Sharma, VP of AI at Sage.

“For example, accountants will be able to scale their operations by using AI to review millions of transactions that would have traditionally taken hours to do manually—
spotting anomalies and making recommendations,” explains Sharma.

With 55 per cent of respondents saying they planned on using AI in the next three years, you can have a competitive advantage by being at the cutting edge of utilizing this technology.

67% say using the cloud makes it easier to collaborate with clients. 

Get your head in the cloud

The increase in cloud-based technology makes for a business environment where you can have an open, 24/7 connection with your clients, and 67 per cent of respondents agreed that this makes their role easier by further enabling collaboration with clients.

“Adopting cloud technology drives a different culture in a business and unlocks new opportunities,” says Jennifer Warawa, EVP of partners, accountants and alliances at Sage. “Initially people think the ways of working, and workflow, are all separate. But it’s intrinsically tied together.”

28% said they feel more confident in their business prospects now compared to last year. While 40% say they feel less confident. 

Stand out by investing in yourself

Competition within the accounting profession is intensifying as the industry becomes more global and clients have more freedom to seek the best possible service—
regardless of location. Only 28 per cent of respondents said they feel more confident in their business prospects now than they did last year, with 40 per cent saying they feel less confident.

“I find some accountants feel like they haven’t time for things like going to networking events with other accountants or undertaking professional development,” says Warawa. “It’s important to carve time out of your day to get a broader view of what’s going on.”

83% say clients expect more from them than they did five years ago. 42% say the expectation was for business advisory services in particular. 

Become a trusted advisor

An overwhelming number of those surveyed (83 per cent) said that clients expect more from them than they did five years ago with regards to services and resources, with 42 per cent saying clients were expecting business advisory services in particular.

“Gone are the days of ‘finish my accounts and then send me a bill’—with no interaction,” says Sage’s director of accountant partners, Cameron John. “This is a service industry. It’s all about relationships and that’s what businesses now are expecting.”

Be an early adopter

AI and cloud technologies are specific examples of transitions already taking place, but the greater mindset of not only accepting emerging technologies but becoming an early adopter of them could set your practice apart from other service providers.

The 2017 Practice of Now report found that 38 per cent of accountants asked saw emerging technologies as the biggest threat to their profession. But as it turns out, 56 per cent of respondents said revenues were up this year even amidst global instability and regulatory changes across several industries.

Maybe technology isn’t the threat it was thought to be.

FOR MORE

Join the CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession digital conversation to share your insights and help accountants prepare for changes that will affect the businesses they support.