The accounting profession is the beating heart of the business world. With a dynamic global business environment, one may ask how this wind of globalization will impact the profession and accountants' everyday functions.
Here are five key trends for today’s accounting professionals to incorporate:
- Understand tech’s growing influence. The accounting profession is transitioning from a manual to a more automated environment with the increased usage of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. Some accounting tasks could be fully automated, such as the sample selections process in auditing. The availability of data is also pushing the industry toward becoming more data-analytics driven with tools such as Power BI, Tableau (visualization) and SQL. Technological advancements will contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of performing accounting duties overall.
- Become a “global accountant” by focusing more on environmental, social and governance (ESG). The pursuit of a cost-efficient business model has opened the world to accounting professionals. Between the developed (e.g., U.S., Germany, China) and emerging (e.g., India, Brazil) economies, business operations are intertwined and dependent upon each other. This means that accountants must put an emphasis on becoming “global accountants,” if necessary, who focus on the emotional quotient as well as soft skills. We must focus on cultural awareness as many businesses today operate in multiple countries and on several continents. Being knowledgeable with respect to culture, communication, the environment in other countries, a client’s social influence and corporate governance should become as much as a priority as technical accounting. Most accountants will be expected to have some sort of expertise in ESG as sustainability becomes a global priority for the planet.
- Counteract the decline in enrollment and help make the industry attractive to younger generations. There must be a push from all current professionals to mentor high school students and to inspire the younger generations that this profession is truly a noble one. The need to ensure a safe level of accounting talent replenishment in the future is very primordial to the survival of the profession. The accounting profession can maximize the use of social media to reach and engage future generations.
- Stay current on future trends. COVID-19 has shown that every industry can evolve and adapt in the face of adversity. Work-from-home measures were implemented to address the consequences of the pandemic. This move has prompted a shift in the job market and, as a result, candidates expect the work-from-home feature to be included in any new job offer. This means that accounting firms and companies must adapt to this demand to remain attractive to candidates. The reality is there is no need to be inflexible; with technological advancement, virtual meetings can be held from basically anywhere by using tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx and the Metaverse. Data needed to complete applicable tasks can be accessed remotely from anywhere. Another aspect to think about is pay transparency and competitiveness; this can help in enhancing trust with potential hires. Diversity is also a key factor to consider if the profession wants to attract the best candidates in the future.
- Be flexible. The future of the accounting profession will be determined by how flexible and how adaptable it is to the dynamic business environment. The global accountant must always remain informed to anticipate and incorporate the future trends into his or her short- and long-term strategic planning.