Transformation. The new normal for accounting services.
Updated: Nov 21
Everything that we know has changed in this tumultuous year 2020. Accounting services are no exception. In this article we take a look at what we think the new normal for accounting services should be.
There is a perception that accounting as a service industry could have done much better in reacting to changes in the environment it operates in. In a lot of ways that is true but, unless you're an industry "insider", you may not be aware of the rapid pace of change the industry is going through.
In this article I hope to showcase some of the very exciting changes that are occurring within the accounting industry at the moment. Many of these changes are long overdue. I will examine what the accountant of the future looks like and how delivering accounting services just became cutting edge.
I'm going to examine the transformation of accounting services in three areas. They are: (a) the profession itself; (b) the accountant of the future and; (c) how delivering services have been transformed.
The accounting profession
Some things must never change
I want to be clear from the outset: accountancy itself should not be altered every time the winds of change start to blow. Based on the fundamental principle that for every debit there must be an equal and opposite credit, and executed according to the double entry system must be left in place unaltered. The rules that govern how accounting is "done" are sound. They give the art of accounting credibility.
The accounting profession has only recently been subject to major (industry wide) change with the introduction of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). It was right to make this change. It has made accountancy better but it has not fundamentally altered how accounting is done.
That is how it must remain. The other components that make up the accounting profession must evolve whilst still preserving the fundamental principles that holds everything together.
For some other things, change was long overdue
Technology is a good example of this. For too long the profession has clung on to it's "old skool" methods and processes. Modern technological tools add so much value to accounting services, it's about time we caught up. Here at Unsquared accounting, we are very proud of the fact that we are tech savvy. If you use our services you have to be ready to use the tech that comes with it (with appropriate training etc).
All I'm saying is that as a profession in which change has traditionally been slow, the reality we find ourselves in now has forced rapid changes on us. The profession is responding fantastically and we at Unsquared accounting are a part of that change!
The accounting professionals
The view that accountants are the 'men in grey suits, crunching numbers' are long gone. Thankfully. The modern accountant is so much more.
Multi functional skillset
A must have for every accountant is a skillset that enables him/her to be multi functional. Everything from being tech savvy, to being a visionary is required in our new reality. It is no longer enough just to be an expert in number crunching (important as that is). The modern accountant also needs to be commercially aware, understand their client's emotions, able to get excited about the growth plans clients have. The list goes on and on.
Accountancy is not difficult. Being an effective accountant is not always as easy as it seems, and that's the challenge for us as accounting professionals. At Unsquared we have a development program that all our people are signed-up in. We focus on having professionals with multi functional skills, both hard and soft skills.
You see the big picture and can identify key patterns and themes in order to arrive at your chosen path.
You are at home crunching large volumes of data to validate assumptions and make decisions.
You value accuracy and can spot a transposed numeral or a missing decimal place from a mile away.
You’re able to keep large numbers of documents, deadlines and files organized so you can maximise your productivity.
The accounting profession has moved from a time-driven industry to a results-driven one. You focus on results.
Your strong subject-matter expertise allows you to provide accurate, relevant and valuable advice to clients.
You act with a bulletproof sense of ethics at all times, valuing honesty, trustworthiness and confidentiality above all else.
You understand that behind the figures are real people, businesses and livelihoods that you are working to support.
You can communicate even complex or unfamiliar ideas in a way that empowers people to take action.
You have a thirst for learning which drives you to acquire new and different skills and knowledge to become more valuable.
You’re adept at working with colleagues across the hall or across the world to deliver a superb result.
You’re able to lead and inspire your colleagues with your insight, experience and innovation.
The evolution of the client
Well, you didn't think that as a client you were exempt from change did you? Clients demand a lot from their accountants (as they should). At Unsquared we think it's ok to demand some things from our clients in return.
We want you to place true value on us and the role we play in your business. We want you to give us the opportunity to become your 'trusted advisors' and your growth partners. We say, without thinking we're better than everybody else, that if you want just number crunching accountants then we are not the right fit for you. We don't operate that way. If we cannot collaborate with you, get excited about your dreams or feel that our opinion is not valued (notice how I don't say 'followed' when I write about our opinion) then we feel as if we're doing a sub-standard job for you. In those circumstances no-one gains anything.
We don't want you to expect us to be a traditional accounting firm. We're not. Accounting is our principle expertise. Our firm has been structured in such a way that our accounting expertise becomes stiff and unwielding when it's not blended together with other aspects of our service delivery mantra. Things like using technology to deliver our accounting expertise. What's wrong with providing recommendations how to improve your business marketing alongside the financial report that shows your marketing department is loss-making? In other words we want you to change your mindset about accountants.
I believe that the changes we're seeing are just the beginning of what is going to be a long process. The challenge, for all of us, will be in being able to identify changes that are necessary vs. those that are not. As always we will do our best to be ready for positive change and it is my heartfelt desire that every client and prospective client will partner with us and change for the good in this, our new normal.
To find out more about the services we offer, please visit our services pages.