Expectations for high-quality accounting services are higher than ever, putting significant pressure on accounting firms of all sizes. With a nationwide shortage of accountants, firms struggle to hire talent that can handle increasing workloads and stay compliant with ever-changing rules, regulations, and compliance requirements.
To understand the state of the industry better, we surveyed accountants across the U.S. to learn how they’re navigating these challenges. Our Automation: Putting Accounting on the Right Path report revealed some surprising insights, including that 93% of accountants are satisfied with the current state of the profession and 96% consider automation crucial to the industry’s future.
Jody, known as the RadicalCPA, is a thought leader and changemaker in the tax and accounting profession. She has been featured on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List for the last 12 years. She is also the author of The Radical CPA: New Rules for the Future-Ready Firm, a book that sparked a movement within the accounting industry. Her new book, Radical Pricing, will be published this year, so be sure to keep an eye out.
Geni is a CPA, founder of TheImpactfulAdvisor.com, and a wine industry consultant at BDCoCPA.com in the Napa Valley. She’s an author and keynote presenter with CITP and CSPM designations, has been recognized in the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List, and was recently named President of IT Alliance, an association of leading technology and accounting professionals.
Report topics that sparked lively discussion include:
- How accountants view the health of the industry and the importance of client experiences
- Accountants’ perspectives on automation and job satisfaction
- Dynamics shaping the future of accounting
We’ve included some highlights from our conversation below.
“Accountants are ready for the [automation] tools to work with us, and to work together toward the industry’s future.”
- Jody Padar
The accounting industry has seen several changes over the last few years - remote work, talent shortages amid ever-increasing workloads, and changing tax laws, to name a few. Given all this turbulence, it’s no surprise that there is excitement around this age of “rebirth” as Jody called it. Tech innovations and tools that help accountants do more with less are enabling them to focus on the work that makes a difference and motivates them.
“Much of the historical focus for automation has been ‘How can I make it easy for me to do stuff inside the firm,’ and not ‘What’s the impact on the client experience?’ ”
- Geni Whitehouse
When thinking about automation, many focus on how it can make their jobs easier. In the business services industry, you must also consider how the technology will impact the clients you serve. Our research showed that 95% of accountants surveyed believe automation will enhance customer experience by offloading menial tasks and allowing them to focus more on work that will positively impact clients and their experiences.
“It should be on every accountant's agenda to be more educated and be the best advisor to our clients. Advisory is where we make the most impact, and the only way we can up our game is if we automate correctly.”
- Jody Padar
Automation done right can equip accountants with fast access to real-time insights and ensure they are using appropriate data to provide value for their clients. In fact, our survey revealed that accountants believe a lack of automation at their firms is holding them back from doing their best work. Seven out of 10 accountants said that handling a large number of routine accounting tasks without the benefit of automation creates consistent challenges for them.
“We’re able to provide a level of service that we weren’t able to do before.”
- Geni Whitehouse
Just as digital transformation has surged over the last four years, client expectations have also risen. However, as Geni shared, automation and other digital tools have opened new opportunities to serve clients better remotely. Between time saved on the commute and in-person document signing, innovative technology has also helped improve accountants’ work experience.
To take full advantage of the automation benefits, firms should look for tools that will help them streamline processes and their existing workflows, as well as ensure maximum impact and value.
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