The digital transformation that triggered the 21st century banking revolution and is now making waves in the accounting sector. It’s an exciting time, but with any significant change comes big challenges. Historically speaking, accounting has always been considered a relatively safe sector: it’s a necessary service for all businesses with predictable revenue models. Accountancy is still a necessary service – but its delivery has changed, thanks to digital disruptions and innovative solutions from tech-savvy firms, and predictable revenue may no longer be guaranteed.
An important sector
The accountancy profession plays a crucial enabling role in all types of commerce. The collection, analysis, and reporting of financial information underpins business decision-making and administration at all levels. In the UK, the accountancy profession contributed Â£59 billion to GDP in 2017â€“â€“of which Â£21 billion was generated by the activities of the accounting industry. A further Â£38 billion is estimated to have been contributed by â€œin-houseâ€ accountants embedded within other industries throughout the economy
Harnessing the digital mindset
The millennial generation is increasingly present in the workforce as employees, clients and bosses. This group is very switched on technologically â€“ and expects a certain level of digital services and interaction in the workplace. Adoption of digital solutions is crucial for staff retention as well as business efficiency. Making Tax Digital (MTD), for example, is around the corner and will pose a real challenge to a large number of firms that arenâ€™t prepared for it. Businesses that fail to make the necessary plans and investment to ensure they will be compliant by 1st April 2019 risk facing penalties â€“ not to mention falling behind the curve.
However, the successful digital mindset is not solely focused on new technologies. It also values human engagement and emphasises the importance of strategy and culture. To get the most from technology, accountants need to strike a balance. Think about it: if you just use technology to automate compliance, what are your clients really paying for? You need to demonstrate value-added services and ascribe them the same level of importance as digitally delivered efficiencies.
Global membership of UK and Irish accounting organisations, 2017
Distribution of top 100 accountancy firms by fee income bracket, 2016-17
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