In the next 20 years, it’s estimated that 97.5 percent of basic chartered accounting services will be replaced by automation. But this doesn’t mean CPAs should start scrambling towards a new career path, looking over their shoulders for robots giving chase. On the contrary. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, at the same time as accounting software is on the rise, accounting jobs are expected to grow. The estimated rate of growth between 2014 and 2025 is 11 percent — faster than the average for U.S. professions.
The meaning behind these seemingly disparate numbers is simple. Successful accountants in the coming years need to focus less on simple and automatable accounting tasks, more on an advisory role, and above all, learn to master the tools on the market so that the software works for the CPA, and not the other way around.
To help you prepare, here are four accounting software innovations to look out for in 2018.
1. Your World Will Flatten
Cloud-based accounting services are becoming the norm. Anytime, anywhere data access and sharing means that a CPA can service clients across the country of even overseas as easily as they once approached clients in their own communities. Such increased global reach flattens the world — increasing competition among the best CPAs and firms vying for top clients. Furthermore, cloud-based accounting software makes it easier for clients to switch CPAs without a large paperwork transfer.
CPAs who want to keep a leg ahead of their competitors should consider the human skills that, when combined with cloud-based software, make them stand out from the crowd. An excellent client services experience should always the foremost of where you focus. But with increased globalization, you may also want to consider mastering a foreign language. Adding a foreign language skill to your resume makes you an even more desirable partner for clients that either exist wholly in other countries or have offices worldwide.
2. You’ll Gain a New Title — Marketer
Again, increased job growth and globalization means CPAs will continue to face more competition. To win business, you can’t be idle. Word of mouth has worked well for many CPAs to grow their client lists in the past and will continue to do so with a digital spin.
The accounting software on the horizon is likely to incorporate aspects of marketing automation into the solutions. This means CPAs will be able to take advantage of the ability to send beautifully designed email newsletters or follow-ups. They’ll be able to automate sharing on social media or create videos or white papers with ease. Such tools at hand present an incredible opportunity to CPAs who choose to take advantage. In particular, automating the process of asking (and asking again) for referrals could be beneficial — formalized referral programs not only increase the number of referrals gained, but the ratio of referrals closed.
3. You’ll Become a Data Ninja
In many ways, the automation of accounting tasks like bill entry, receipt uploads, and check printing has made a CPAs work life easier. But it’s also made it easier for clients to take on these tasks themselves. According to research, 37 percent of small to medium business owners think that they can now complete many accounting tasks themselves using accounting automation.
That number is likely to grow, so successful CPAs will need to master additional ways to add value to their clients’ businesses. In addition to automating some tasks, accounting software is becoming increasingly capable of digging deep into data and the reports you want to pull are becoming more and more customizable. The right data can identify trends that will help your clients avoid risks and proactively address opportunities. The more you can provide those actionable insights, the more value you’ll have beyond what software alone can produce.
4. Your App Library Will Grow
Cloud-based accounting software makes integration with a variety of related apps seamless. And you can expect to see the number of accounting-related apps solving for a variety of challenges increase in the coming years. Successful CPAs should see themselves as app librarians — well aware of and versed in a variety of tools that allow you to create custom suites of solutions for your clients.
Not only will your clients appreciate tailored solutions, an app library will help you overcome some of the limitations imposed on your growth potential by the size of your firm. With the right apps in place, you can upsell additional app-based digital services.
Successful CPAs don’t need to fear the rise of accounting software, they need to embrace it. It’s important to be current on the products out there so that you can continue to provide value to your clients as not just an accounting expert, but a technology expert. To check your knowledge of the tools on the market, use our product selection tool for accounting software comparisons or talk to a Technology Advisor to see which software best fits your needs.