In 2015, technology, ethics, and compensation were among the top accounting trends to watch.
Approaching 2017, the landscape has shifted a bit. Here are three rising trends to keep an eye on.
1. Technology Still Tops the List
Technology will continue to do a lot of the heavy lifting for accounting professionals in both private and public sectors. Top technology trends for today and the foreseeable future include:
- Cloud computing and big data. Cloud computing continues to be a popular way for accountants to cut software costs while also remaining competitive and “always on.” With cloud accounting, data can be accessed (protected, of course) from anywhere at any time. Additionally, big data has come on the scene as a way to take research and predictions to a new level. Big data and artificial intelligence can provide powerful insights into client needs and predictions on particular businesses. These new tools can help accountants provide even better, more personalized tax advice and financial information to clients.
- Mobile accounting. Clients are mobile. Accountants are mobile. Software needs to be mobile so that data can be tracked in real-time (and then accessed, via the cloud). Providing mobile accounting solutions will help keep clients engaged but also keep financial information at-the-ready for accountants as well.
- Streamlined data entry. The buzzword these days is OCR: Optical Character Recognition. In a nutshell, accountants have the ability to convert documents into editable, searchable data without having to manually enter everything. Think of all those receipts and shoeboxes of information that come into an office around tax time—with OCR, the guesswork is removed from determining handwriting. This saves time in processing information and also alleviates human errors during manual entry.
- Social media. Not only will social media be used as a way to engage Millennials and younger generations in recruitment efforts, these channels will be used to listen to what target audiences (e.g., clients) want and need from their accountants. Take note of the accounting firms that use social media channels as a way to market their services and prove they are one step ahead of the rest.
2. Business Structure Makes an Impact
The increase of start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, and consultancies (think freelancers, solopreneurs, etc.), will continue to make an impact on the accounting industry. These changes mean that accountants will need to be strategic business thinkers and provide flexibility for their clients. They will be required to be knowledgeable in niche areas, to provide due diligence on business set-up and best practices, and to offer additional services to an increasingly eclectic mix of clients.
3. Collaboration is Key
Establishing a true partnership and consulting-type relationship with clients is one trend that will push firms forward. No longer are accountants seen as just the numbers people—clients will look for them to offer additional value. Establishing relationships, getting to know and predict client needs, and working as partners in business is a model that successful accountants will need to consider in the coming year.
Accounting Remains a Growth Industry
The accounting industry remains a growth sector and salaries are predicted to rise by anywhere between 2.8-3.7% in 2017—one of the highest increases in the past decade. Accounting professionals that can demonstrate a combination of IT proficiency, such as enterprise resource planning and data analysis, as well as good communication and soft skills, are in particular demand. Additionally, those that have expertise in areas such as financial planning, pensions, and inheritance tax planning may be in high demand as the queries for these types of services also increase from clients in all industries.
Capella University offers the following accounting programs: