If you’re an accountant, you may be concerned that accounting will be automated and could replace some of the work you do and skills you possess.
But there’s no need to worry.
You should actually be energized.
As your business makes improvements to come out stronger in the post-crisis economy, you will have opportunities to experience a wave of new and exciting work, skill development and career advancement.
Opportunities for stimulating work
During this new economic era, you will experience some of the most stimulating days of your accounting career. Pivoting from pushing paperwork to driving real value, you will have more time to think strategically about ways to improve your company’s balance sheet.
You will become an even more valued corporate leader in guiding the company towards a more prosperous future.
Will accounting be automated?
All these opportunities are coming your way because of the time you won’t have to spend on accounts payable (AP) automation processes and because of the extraordinary economic changes and opportunities coming your way now.
Economic changes are affecting the business world now like never before. Markets are in flux. Cash flows vary widely depending on industries. Strategies are being reconsidered. And finances of corporations need careful evaluation and smart insights to drive business value and outcomes.
Accountants have the skills to help with all these changes as business advisors, financial analysts, and internal controls specialists.
Here are more details on each of these:
1. Accountants are Business Advisors
You will have much more time to engage with your business owners and clients as a business advisor, offering insights on how to bolster your company’s balance sheet and help the company perform better.
“The role of business advisor will result in more than 80% of an accountant’s revenue, as accountants can add a huge amount of value when they know the facts,” said Rob Nixon, an internationally renowned accountancy expert, in an Entrepreneur.com article titled Can Computers Replace Human Accountants? We Doubt They Can.
As a business advisor with accounting automated, you will be able to spend more time analyzing and interpreting more data to make better business decisions.
You will have the opportunity see the big picture of what information your company holds and how it can be used to make smarter investments, find new growth and operate more efficiently. You will also find more time to focus on tax consulting, facilities decisions, and corporate mergers.
“The value of having an accountant – either outsourced or in house – is not in the data entry but in what they can add to your business,” according to a report in SmartCompany, a publication for growth businesses. “A good accountant operates as a strategic partner in your business, offering insight into what the financials mean.”
Smart ways to save money and boost revenues
As a strategic business advisor, you will have more time to identify smart ways to save money or increase sales, create credible revenues forecasts and answer questions from business colleagues such as How good are my internal controls?, Which of our suppliers are likely to go out of business?, or Where can we lower expenses?
By answering these questions, you will be contributing to the growth and strategic positioning of your company and providing insights to managers and departments across the business.
2. Financial Analyst
As a financial analyst, you will have access to financial information on dashboards – that few others in the company have – that will give you a comprehensive view of how the company is doing.
Seeing the whole corporate financial picture, you will be able to spot early warning signs of potential problems and opportunities to shift directions.
In the dynamic post-crisis economy, there is high demand for accountants with financial analysis skills who can watch the financial ups and downs carefully, spot sales spikes and slowdowns and identity risk signals.
Uncover anomalies and changes to business processes
In this financial analyst role, you will also have more time to study financial dashboards and do what you’ve been trained to do well: spot financial trends, exceptions and outliers. For instance, you will be able to uncover anomalies such as suppliers who are creating risk for your business.
You have time to identify fraudulent financial transactions. You will be able to spot suspect transactions and unusual money transfers – often a tip-off to a money laundering scheme.
Check financial performance metrics and troubleshoot problems
From a performance standpoint, with accounting automated, you will be able to check your company’s key performance indicators, see if those goals are being achieved and adjust to make sure they are.
One indicator will be the amount of cash flow your company has on hand. You will be able to enhance your monitoring of cash levels and build spending plans to make sure your company has enough money to bounce through further financial shocks.
From a cost perspective, you will be able to identify unnecessary expenses and recommend cutting them. You will also be able to improve your monitoring of budgets, energy use and staffing levels.
Your financial insights will give you access to information about your liabilities and how you manage your cash flow. Based on this, you can create ways to reduce borrowing costs.
3. Internal Controls Specialist
Building on all these financial analyst opportunities, you will have more time to add value and insights to strengthen your company’s internal controls.
Internal controls, ranging from reconciliation, authority documentation and security, exist to meet financial reporting deadlines and improve data accuracy.
In your internal controls audit role, you could be called upon to fix poor record-keeping or other aspects of your financials that add risk to your business. You will be relied upon to help your company avoid attracting interest from outside auditors.
You could be asked to prepare internal audits for your company in which your skills as an accountant would be needed to track financials and regulations. During this process, you should take the opportunity to upgrade your company’s risk management programs and promote continuous budget reviews.
In this role, you could be able to focus on two types of controls: preventive and detective.
Your skills as an accountant will be valuable to create preventive controls that focus on mitigating fraud opportunities and early identification of errors. These tasks should include inventory tests, customer credit reviews and accounting process reviews.
Detective controls are procedures to catch mistakes that pass through the preventive screening. Savvy accounting analysts reconcile mistakes by comparing data sets, find ways to test risky processes and collaborate with external auditors.
Change creates a new opportunity
There are two trends going on now that will affect the working experiences of accountants over the next several months. Accounting will be automated. And the changing economy caused by the pandemic will shape your ability to become a business business and financial advisor.
Both trends are going to be great opportunities for accountants to develop new skills, add more value to their businesses and advance their careers. Take this special opportunity to sharpen your skills to improve your business value.