The moment is now for accountants to position themselves as essential in their roles during this transitory period in a world full of uncertainty, disruption, and change. according to John Edwards, the organization’s chief executive officer (IFA)
Just a quarter of those surveyed (25 percent) admitted to feeling “totally confident” about their future within the profession, reflecting the complex challenges and unique opportunities the sector will face in the months and years ahead. In a recent survey of 136 accountants, when asked how confident they felt about the future in their roles, 30.1 percent said they were “not at all confident.”
Without a doubt, the epidemic has sped up the digital transformation process. It’s a truth that has unexpectedly been pressed onto the accounting community and the rest of society. In addition to this, organizations are dealing with a number of significant obstacles, including the need to recover from two years of sporadic lockdowns, the very real threat of bankruptcy, rising energy costs, tax rates, managing Covid, the cost-of-living crisis, and the conflict in Ukraine with all of its global repercussions.
We appear to have jumped ten years in a few months as technological progress continues. How can accountants structure their financial operations to guide their clients’ businesses toward a more lucrative, long-term future? In essence, it involves effectively implementing new technology, taking into account the entire company – the wider picture – and putting an emphasis on hiring and developing the team of the future.
An automated mindset
A decade ago, a financial function’s repetitive processing work accounted for around 75% of its workload, while advising work accounted for about 25%. These numbers have now changed as the majority of organizations automate procedures and systems and turn to their finance department for in-depth research and projections.
It is more important than ever for finance departments to position themselves as revenue-generating rather than cost-saving centers. We are required to perform more with less due to the demands of the current corporate environment. Even the most important, cost-focused operational teams are now expected to contribute more to the bottom line of the company. Accounting employees can concentrate on more strategic work by automating time-consuming, manual tasks.
One significant area of automation, artificial intelligence (AI), is poised to fundamentally alter the way accounting operations are carried out by increasing productivity, decreasing errors, and optimizing workflows. Additionally, AI will help professionals make real-time business decisions based on insights drawn from accounting data. As a result of the pandemic’s significant surge in digital payments, demand for AI-based accounting software has risen.
Processing payments is still labor-intensive and manual, making mistakes simple to make. However, real-time data is enabling organizations to have a more accurate, real-time view as automation solutions enter the market.
With more automation, the finance function will have more time to concentrate on tasks like better collecting additional receivables like deposits, structured payment arrangements, or any other items a firm needs, as well as capturing payments more promptly.
The past two years have taught us that planning ahead is essential for management and the finance department to future-proof their companies. Finance departments are in a good position to advise on hazards and comprehend what is required right away to secure long-term survival.
A good understanding of cash flow, reserves, investments, potential future prospects, and/or expansion plans are required by management. Finance departments will be able to offer more visibility at the push of a button as a result of more automation, and they will then be able to provide more value-added guidance such as how to enter a new market or launch a new e-commerce service.
ESG and sustainable credentials
As companies are held more responsible for not only their financial health but also for the sustainability of their operations, it has also become clear how crucial environmental sustainability issues are to the existence of an organization. With investors’ attention focused on sustainability and climate change, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are growing in importance and drawing more attention. This presents a significant growth opportunity for auditing.
Sustainable business practices might not be at the top of a company’s priority list just yet because for many, the immediate necessity is to survive the post-pandemic world. Businesses need to take into account their ESG capabilities and acknowledge that it is something they must focus on even though the current focus is on survival.
You can gain a competitive advantage by taking into account possibilities like signing up for independent verification through companies like “BCorp.” The mission of B Lab UK, a non-profit division of the B Corporation, is to develop and support sustainable businesses with demonstrable social and environmental responsibility.
Collaboration is key
Collaboration is essential, too, and the future of finance tasks will require a breadth and depth of knowledge and abilities. Finance departments had already begun to reform, albeit gradually. The pandemic forced organizations to move more quickly toward digital transformation. Finance departments must now demonstrate that they are up to the task of changing.
What is becoming more obvious as we make our way through the cloud of uncertainty is how intelligent technology may help businesses make better decisions and how accountants can use them to their advantage. Instead of an accountant who is solely concerned with technical compliance issues, businesses today more than ever require a tech-savvy commercial accountant. Now it is up to them to take advantage of the opportunities that the new accounting period offers.