The accounting profession has arguably become even more important and competitive during the pandemic. Changes on the legal and regulatory front make this field extremely challenging — forcing accountants to rely more on technology due to time constraints and demand accuracy. At the same time, younger CPAs are seeing huge shifts in the current business environment, creating an express lane to the future.
Technological advancements have enabled business automation — and the ability to perform transactions electronically — at a much faster pace. As a result, accounting firms are investing in technologies that help them process large volumes of complex information quickly and with better accuracy. New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will enable accountants to shift from mundane tasks and routine functions to providing data-based, higher-value recommendations. Firms will still need a human workforce to manage technologies and ultimately review technological output.
It is also a great time for accountants to use existing technologies. Technologies such as cloud-based software, client portals and Microsoft Teams have existed for a long time. Records are kept in soft copies in a cloud-based storage system like a client portal, where information can be accessed from anywhere, almost instantly. The client portal sends information electronically, saving valuable office space, reducing paper clutter and keeping retention policies intact.
Not only have client portals streamlined daily operations, they have also improved the security of client information. Now clients can transmit their personal, sensitive and confidential information without the fear that it will get lost in the mail. The ease of sharing information electronically between clients and professionals is prompting widespread adoption, and it’s not going away.
The COVID-19 pandemic has launched the profession much further into the future — especially for young people. While COVID-19 is a global tragedy and there is no question that it has had innumerable adverse effects, it has also given accountants a leg up, especially with respect to technology — both new and existing. Prior to the pandemic, CPAs were hesitant to use and place new technology in service, fearing disruptions in workflow and diminution in productivity and efficiency. However, being open and adapting to new technology is now a necessity. Millennials are more likely to be tech-savvy, and firms are looking to these young CPAs to help shape the future of this field. Consequently, younger CPAs now have an opportunity to take advantage of the COVID-19 curveball to apply their tech knowledge to advance their careers.
Millennials have long yearned to be experts in their respective fields and industries but have consistently been disadvantaged by their lack of experience. With the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) and payroll tax changes, it is the perfect time for younger CPAs to propel their careers.
With new tax legislation and accounting updates coming out every day, clients and even partners with years of experience are seeking expertise. Younger CPAs can take advantage of this time by becoming go-to experts in EIDL and the PPP forgiveness process, and they can help understand new financial statement disclosures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tide has been turning for quite some time, changing the role of the accountant to business advisor. What has become clear now, more than ever, is that technology and automation is the future of the accounting profession.
“Citrin Cooperman” is the brand under which Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP, a licensed independent CPA firm, and Citrin Cooperman Advisors LLC serve clients’ business needs. The two firms operate as separate legal entities in an alternative practice structure.