In the constantly evolving world of finance and business, it’s imperative to keep up with the times and harness the power of the latest trends. Accounting, a cornerstone of the business world, has seen monumental shifts in recent years, with new technologies and methodologies rewriting traditional norms.
Whether you’re an accounting professional, a business owner, or someone just keen on understanding the financial landscape, it’s crucial to recognize which of these trends are not just fleeting changes but transformative shifts that are here to stay. From cloud solutions to the integration of artificial intelligence, the future of accounting is as promising as it is fascinating. Below are seven accounting trends that have proven their resilience and are changing the way we perceive the world of numbers and finance.
1. Cloud-Based Accounting Software and Tool
Cloud-based tools and software have been around for years, helping accounting departments innovate and become efficient. Accounting software that lives on the cloud can keep data secure, accessible from anywhere, and able to integrate easily with other applications. This allows accounting departments to work collaboratively, which serves to increase productivity and eliminate miscommunication. Additionally, with the use of managed private servers, businesses can deploy compute resources that allow accountants to work from anywhere, though we’ll touch more on that later.
More importantly, using these cloud-based accounting tools can often save businesses money, as there is no need for on-site storage servers or server technicians. Though server storage and computer resources may fluctuate, the increased competition between cloud hosting providers has resulted in unprecedented affordability as well. Put simply, it makes more financial sense to use the cloud, outsourcing the implementation, managing, and maintenance of the cloud to professionals who can do it for much less money.
2. AI-Powered Accounting (Automation)
AI has been on the horizon for years, but it’s finally at a point where it’s beginning to integrate with software at a high level. Though the implementation of AI tools is still a long way from reaching every accounting department, innovative businesses are reaping the benefits. Still, many businesses remain wary of the emerging technology. Whether businesses are reluctant to use AI because they don’t understand it or because they lack the skills to use it successfully, AI-backed accounting is seemingly the future of the industry.
The consensus among those who are apprehensive about AI is that jobs, and therefore humans, would be made redundant. However, the opposite is true. AI software and tools should be used to enhance accountants’ skills. With the right combination of human input and AI, accounting firms can get more done in less time.
AI-integrated accounting software and tools are still in their infancy, but there are already plenty of useful tools that can handle the most rote of accounting tasks. VIC.AI, for example, can extract the information found in an invoice, while software like Blue Dot can handle tax compliance by automating tasks such as calculating taxable employee benefits. Those are just two of the top AI tools currently available.
3. Remote Accounting
With more businesses opting to transition their business to the cloud, it’s made it easier for employees to work remotely. One of the primary benefits of this is access to a wider pool of talented accountants and financial experts. Now, businesses can have accountants in different time zones serving clients worldwide, a feat that would have seemed impossible for a small business even ten years ago.
With the use of managed private servers that exist off-site, company accountants can access resources through virtual machines that make it feel like they’re working in the cubicle down the hall from the CFO.
4. Cyber Security Preparedness
Another benefit of switching to the cloud is the increased security. It’s much harder for a bad actor to infiltrate a data center in the middle of nowhere than access servers kept on-site. Both public and private hosted cloud services have technicians working around the clock to protect the servers. Further, cloud services implement advanced security features on the backend that make it virtually impossible for someone to access your data.
Data secured by the cloud offers peace of mind, but companies should still strive to prioritize security. Human error is still a viable avenue for hackers who use social engineering tactics to trick employees into giving up confidential information such as logins and passwords. To shore up defenses, so to speak, accounting firms or departments should have frequent training to teach employees how to spot and avoid social engineering attacks such as phishing attacks. Accounting firms, which have access to clients’ financial information, are especially vulnerable and thus require additional training.
5. Data Analytics
Raw data by itself is nothing more than a collection of ostensibly random numbers. They need context in order to mean something, and that’s where data analytics and forecasting come in. Accounting analytics can be used to parse information from financial statements and connect them to the larger financial outlook of a company. Accountants can leverage analytics to draw a line between a company’s customer base and dwindling sales, finding the root cause of the problem by looking beyond the raw data. For example, with a large enough dataset, an accountant could find that a certain product offered by a company is no longer useful because it’s reached market saturation, which may prompt the company to improve the product or offer a new product with additional functionality.
With the proper tools, accountants can synthesize large financial datasets and turn them into something comprehensible that high-level executives can then leverage for strategy. Accountants may need to learn SQL or Python — programming languages — to run advanced queries on databases such as Microsoft Access or MySQL.
6. Multidisciplinary Accounting Roles
Accountants are often (unjustly) cast as employees who lack the communication and people skills to work collaboratively with other departments. That may have been true in the past, but the role of accountants has evolved. Companies need creative accountants who can communicate well and look beyond the numbers. An accountant who can propose a strategy to high-level decision-makers in a clear, direct manner is a lot more valuable to an accounting firm or department.
As businesses continue to lean on accountants for insightful reads on the company’s finances and strategy, accountants have to keep up by expanding their skillset. That means being comfortable deciphering financial statements, making projections, and offering advice on how best to proceed. Though controllers and CFOs are ultimately responsible for these tasks, accountants who show a high level of business acumen are highly sought after.
7. Outsourced Accounting
An outsourced accountant is the ideal solution for small businesses that lack an accountant or large businesses that need to scale up in time for tax season. The benefits of outsourcing your accounting needs are manifold, though an outsourced accounting firm’s access to a deep bench of top talent is the most obvious benefit.
You may only need one accountant to audit your books, or you may need two or more accountants to handle bookkeeping and forecasting while you look for permanent replacements. Whatever the case, an outsourced accounting firm can meet your needs at a moment’s notice, giving you the freedom to scale up when necessary. You won’t have to hire a so-so accountant out of desperation or hire more accountants than you actually need when you contract an outsourced accounting firm like Fully Accountable.
Stay Ahead of Accounting Trends With Fully Accountable
As we reflect on the trajectory of the accounting sector, it’s clear that the digital age has brought forth innovations that have permanently reshaped the industry’s landscape. Cloud-based platforms, AI-powered tools, and the rise of remote work have not only made accounting processes more efficient but have also elevated the quality and depth of insights derived.
Furthermore, with an increasing emphasis on cybersecurity and customization through software integrations, businesses can expect greater reliability and specificity in their accounting systems. Adding to this mix are the multidisciplinary roles and a heightened focus on data analytics, both of which underscore the fact that the accountant of today (and tomorrow) is much more than just a number cruncher. These steadfast trends not only signify the future of accounting but also point towards a more integrated, secure, and analytical financial world that benefits businesses and customers alike.
With an outsourced accountant from Fully Accountable, you’ll have the help you need at a price that won’t hurt the bottom line. Our accountants are consummate experts in everything from the ever-changing tax code to the litany of popular accounting software. If you’re in need of an accountant, reach out via our contact form or call us at (877) 330-9401, and we’ll put you on the path to a better, more secure financial future.