As in many professional sectors, the professions surrounding business accounting are undergoing a profound transformation thanks to digitalization.
If the latter provides software solutions facilitating the mastery of accounting, the democratisation of its tools obliges chartered accountants to bring a new added value to their expertise. Fortunately, the explosion in the amount of data to be analysed, resulting from the very exploitation of the digital world, is increasingly placing the accountant at the centre of companies’ strategic decisions.
Between data mining, controlling and strategic consulting, the profession of chartered accountant, which some saw disappearing because of the arrival of digital management, still has a bright future ahead of it.
In recent years, the advent of IT tools and the digitisation of documents have made the work of accountants easier, particularly for data entry tasks. Office automation has become lighter: filing, archiving, administrative follow-up, etc.
Similarly, exchanges with clients of accounting firms have become simpler. Email allows for faster document retrieval. Relationships with clients are at the heart of the accountants’ profession, and the immediacy of these relationships is an undeniable asset in day-to-day management, but also in transmitting alerts and reminders when problems arise.
The digitisation of invoices, commercial exchanges and bank statements has given rise to specialised software for fiduciary institutions.
However, this software, which was initially reserved for accounting establishments, has become more widespread. Today, SMEs, and even very small businesses, can do their own bookkeeping, often using online solutions.
Keeping track of all the accounting records as well as quotes, invoices, expenses, pay slips could be difficult for entrepreneurs to manage.
From now on, the financial management of companies is facilitated by “all-in-one” solutions that go as far as the preparation of more advanced accounting entries: balance sheets, income statements, tax returns, etc.
Similarly, this software can be customised and thus adapted to the specificities of companies, associations and foundations.
So is the accountancy profession disappearing?
Far from it, but it is undeniable that it is changing.
Advice and verification first
The accountant is of course still the most important contact with the tax authorities. However, his job goes further than finalising the annual accounts.
Although software solutions make it easier to manage accounts, despite the automation of financial processes, errors remain numerous. The use of these digital tools does not protect against mishandling or inaccuracy. And in terms of accounting, it does not take much to become irregular.
The “verification” part of an expert is therefore still relevant, especially as some accounting software is not up to date with the regulations.
Here again, the role of a financial professional is crucial. He must keep abreast of the latest legal, legislative and fiscal requirements.
Accounting professionals know the importance of customer contact. Nowadays, thanks to digitalization, the use of smartphones and secure connections, exchanges between decision-makers and accountants are numerous and immediate. The accounting firm must be able to give the client access to all its data, financial possibilities, market analyses and information on competing companies in no time.
It must be hyper-reactive and, thanks to customer relations software, be able to respond to requests within seconds on a daily basis.
In an era of accelerated digital globalisation, the opportunities of new international markets are attracting more and more SMEs. It is not easy to know the tax laws and other financial regulations of foreign countries. Here too, the accountant will show his or her expertise by proposing solutions.
The accountant’s office is no longer just a place for recording administrative documents. Its advisory role is more relevant than ever.
Moreover, digitalisation, and especially the resulting big data, offers many opportunities for accountants.
Before the digital revolution, a company’s accounting system was the source of the data. Today, all sectors and departments of the company are suppliers of data. The expert has a huge amount of data and has to separate the wheat from the chaff.
And that’s the big change that digital transformation has brought to public accounting. Big data analysis not only provides a real-time view of the financial aspects of a business, but also allows for more refined advice on the future of the business.
Data mining and the resulting analyses are becoming essential tools for any decision support and provide unparalleled prediction tools. The accountant’s strategic analysis becomes the basis for any company’s development: market access, financing possibilities, state of competition.
Thanks to software that makes use of these data cross-references in real time and to his or her expertise, the certified public accountant naturally becomes a true consulting partner for any decision-maker concerned about the success of his or her company.
It is therefore up to the accountancy world to succeed in its digital transformation so as to no longer be a box for recording administrative documents, but to become a strategic pole inseparable from its clients’ success.