Podcast: Accounting in Flux: Predictions for a Dynamic Future

In the latest episode of "Accounting Answers," host Rob Brown discussed the top 3 predictions for the accounting world in the coming years.

In this series, host Rob Brown interviewed 111 people who care about accounting. He talks to tech and accounting experts on the frontline, talking to people daily. He's on a mission to break people out of their bubbles and share different perspectives. 

In this episode, DataBlend's Adam Rakich joined Citrix's Adrienne Lester, communication expert Alice Grey Harrison, Business Advisor Academy's Amanda Watts, and Clarity Street's Amy Holdsworth.

Here are their top three predictions. Make sure to check out the podcast, which can be found at the end of this blog post!

Adam Rakich:

  1. Everyone has to calm down about AI. Every day, 15 new vendors seem to have AI in their names because it is trendy and exciting. However, Adam wants to get to the meat of it and discuss how AI will improve real, measurable outcomes for the accounting world.
  2. Automation, automation, automation. Every accountant will need to automate more. Even with fewer accountants, there won't be less work. There must be a willingness to explore options and technology in the software space. However, software developers must provide simple, clear solutions that show a measurable return.
  3. There is enormous potential in the CAS/outsourced accounting space. Relying on outsourced accounting providers with experience across a broad range of businesses will become a more popular model for organizations. But what Adam thinks is lagging is that the tech stack hasn't caught up. They need to work on how to serve this new business model in a way that benefits everybody.

Adrienne Lester:

  1. Automation, automation, automation. Adrienne states that 96% of accountants consider automation important to the profession. There are repetitive, very tactical things that accountants have to do time and time again. Being able to automate will do many things; however, the top ones that she sees are lower human error, cost reduction, elevating the customer and client experience, and increasing productivity.
  2. Artificial intelligence — AI is going to be around large language models. Accountants need to know many words/jargon, so being able to ask a question to a large language model or define an answer will be very important when regurgitating back to a customer. It also helps with enhanced data analysis when providing forward-thinking advisory and speeds it along. Lastly, it helps with fraud detection management with pattern recognition. 
  3. Client experience — Adrienne states that in a recent Citrix study, 73% say client experience is important when introducing new software.

Alice Grey Harrison:

  1. The employee experience will continue to evolve to meet employees' needs. There will be more of a lattice career path, with more job sharing and more fractional/seasonal work. Alice thinks that firms will continue to evolve the way they think about employees' work hours.
  2. We will communicate through alignment. Alice clarifies that we will see fully articulated missions, visions, values, and strategies. We will see measurable performance of both people and firms based on mission, vision, values, and strategy alignment. 
  3. With evolving technologies, there will be evolving methodologies. Advisory practices will continue to grow and evolve. Alice states that a lot of specialization and consolidation will bring major change within the firms. Firms will become more sophisticated in how they manage change so that they can bring their people along with them on the continuum of change. They will clearly communicate with their people about the what, why, when, and how of the change so they can bring those people on board and align them with the changes to help build the firm's performance. 

Amanda Watts:

  1. Amanda believes that many companies will start outsourcing and offshoring to save costs. However, clients are looking for more than just compliance; they want consulting and advising, too. Therefore, only those firms that optimize and systemize outsourcing and offshoring will be able to succeed in the long run. This is because when people buy what they need, they usually question the price. However, when they buy what they want, they are willing to spend more money. Amanda states that compliance is a need, while business advisory is a want. Therefore, offshoring compliance can free up more resources to offer better client advising.
  2. Amanda predicts that accounting firms with physical offices will shift to social media or virtual offices. This means that these firms will need to develop their personal brands and adapt to remote work.
  3. There will be a greater need for transparency and explaining why having an accountant is essential. Amanda states that accountants previously didn't have to market themselves, but their necessity has been questioned lately. There will be a greater need to be transparent around the numbers, and accounting firms must show the benefits of having an accountant.

Amy Holdsworth:

  1. People are going to become harder and harder to find. You need to leverage technology and systems to fill those gaps. For example, you should harness and take advantage of technology to find ways to be more efficient within your practice, execute the tasks needed, service your clients, and ensure compliance and advice are taken care of correctly. 
  2. Suppose the industry doesn't do something to promote how sexy being a public practice accountant is. In that case, the trusted advisor role will take a hit. People want connection and relationships, so we need to harness it.
  3.  The tech space will be overcrowded. Choosing what apps and software are right for you will get harder and harder. In some saturated markets, app development will plateau as apps try to gain more global market share vs. developing the product more. She asks, "Will apps actually develop at the pace that we need them to develop at?" She believes that the impact will be that if apps don't continue to develop, you will get disenchanted accountants. In addition, she sees more apps developing, adding to the noise in the marketplace, and accountants trying to adopt new tech, taking them away from spending more time servicing clients. 

Listen to the podcast!

We'd love to hear from you! What are your top 3 predictions for the accounting world in the coming years? Please share your thoughts, and let's continue the conversation.