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April 6, 2020

The impact of technology on the accounting profession

Written by: Gary Culverhouse

The central role that technology plays in business has been amplified recently, as the economy grapples with the impact of COVID-19 and a considerable proportion of the Australian workforce transition to working from home.

We can see through employment trends how accounting firms have the opportunity to become leaner and more profitable. But what exactly has changed to allow for this to happen? And just how much impact is artificial intelligence and cloud-based computing having?

Here are two major ways technology is impacting the accounting profession and what you can do to leverage it to future-proof and grow your firm.

  1. Advances in accounting software

    Technology platforms such as Xero have made reconciling accounts and transactions so much easier for business owners, which is great, but it has also reduced the workload required by bookkeepers. What used to be a heavily cumbersome task, reconciling accounts is so much easier now. The latest accounting systems use bank feeds to report on transactions. Common transactions can be automatically reconciled by creating rules in the system, and receipts can be uploaded so all records are located in a single place.

    The technology is not stopping there either. As an example, Xero recently acquired a software platform called HubDoc. By integrating the two, you can easily take a photo of a receipt which is then automatically uploaded to Xero, and AI is then used to ‘read’ the details on the receipt and match the receipt to the correct transaction from the bank feed. Advances like this are taking care of the heavy lifting for bookkeepers and clerks; which means they can more efficiently service more clients.

  2. Cloud computing and communication

    Accounting software is not the only technological change that is impacting the accounting sector. Cloud computing and communication technology is providing firms with the ability to leverage talent from all over the world. Many firms are utilising offshore staff to take on the heavily process driven, repeatable tasks in their firms. Tasks such as preparing BAS and tax returns are being outsourced to offshore providers where they are completed by fully qualified accountants for a fraction of the cost.

    The benefits of doing this from the firm’s point of view is obviously, reducing costs, but also creating an environment where their local staff can move away from completing the transactional and compliance tasks and focus on delivering the proactive, value-add services to their clients such as business advisory. When done well, this strategy can provide firms with the foundations required to scale and grow.

    It’s an exciting time for those accounting firms willing to embrace new technology and adapt to the changing business environment. For those firms who are resisting the change the future looks less promising, especially in the current climate.

Don’t fall behind

If you want to learn more about how the accounting industry is changing, then download our 2020 accounting industry trend report.

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