Why accountants need technology to protect the next generation of talent

With fewer and fewer individuals entering the accounting profession, Dext VP of Product Strategy Paul Lodder offers up an op-ed on how and why existing accountants need to leverage today's technology to protect tomorrow.
Why accountants need technology to protect the next generation of talent

The role of the accountant is changing. More and more firms are seeing a flux in the number of accountants leaving and joining the profession. At the same time, their roles are continuing to expand as trusted advisors, issuing more strategic support and offering advice rather than just ticking boxes. 

But do young people see the appeal of becoming an accountant?

According to research from Inuit Quickbooks, stress experienced during the new tax year period has made it less likely for people to enter the profession (41%). However, to challenge this, tech adoption is creating a more attractive industry for those entering the accounting space. From helping relieve manual tasks through automation, to increasing efficiency and ensuring compliance, technology has the ability to shape the industry for the better.

So, how can technology protect and shape the accounting sector for the tech-savvy generation entering the workforce?

Gaining a competitive edge

Digital transformation is changing our everyday lives. And, at the same time, the next generation is entering the workplace with a greater knowledge of technology than ever before. There’s no doubt that young people are equipped with a tech-savvy understanding of the digital world. 

For the accounting sector to appeal to the younger generation, companies need to embrace tech. And, if your firm rejects digital transformation, you could risk losing accountants to competition. Instead, the evolution of new smart tools will work alongside this new generation, while simultaneously creating new opportunities for growth (for both the firm and the newest recruits).

In addition to tech, highlighting how the accountancy industry contributes to economic growth, financial stability, and sustainable business practices can create more meaningful and exciting opportunities. In a recent survey, the majority of respondents enjoy their role (90%), yet 56% feel they spend too much time completing manual tasks. When asked what the accountants of the future would value most, the majority believe it is the better adoption of technology.

Reduce admin

When trainee accountants join the profession, it’s unlikely that administrative tasks are the reason they became an accountant. To ensure retention, technology can help the accountants focus on finding solutions and solving complex challenges, instead of fixating on extensive hours of paper-based filing and admin. 

The next generation are more interested in the development of their professional careers, and by reducing these admin-dominated tasks, young accountants are much more likely to continue their growth at one company than transfer to another. This will not only benefit individuals but ensure the firm maintains the best talent. 

If accounting firms choose to leverage technology to automate processes, this will also reduce the likelihood of errors, allowing for greater accuracy, efficiency and confidence. Tasks that would otherwise be complex can be streamlined and made more manageable, ensuring that digital skills develop too.

Supporting the new role of the accountant

Although accountants have always been seen as trusted advisors, tech means that more time can be spent collaborating with clients and taking on that advisory role. 

Implementing technology will also help many new accountants' aspirations for the future. The new accountant must continue to be proactive alongside digitalisation, using these skills to support their roles and business growth.

Accountants need strong communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills to succeed. The more time they have, the more time that can be spent building these client relationships. Similarly, this time can be used for training and investing in the next generation of industry professionals.

The bottom line

It is no longer a question of whether accountants should integrate technology into their roles but a matter of time before it becomes the norm. To get ahead of the curve and appeal to the next generation of digitally savvy individuals, embracing technology will enable a greater transformation of the accountancy sector.

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