Jason Cunningham
Entrepreneur

Jason Cunningham is a finance whiz, speaker and media personality that can be heard on SEN1116 and The Living Room on Channel 10

Are the days of accountants numbered?

Jason Cunningham
Entrepreneur

Jason Cunningham is a finance whiz, speaker and media personality that can be heard on SEN1116 and The Living Room on Channel 10

Automation and technology is disrupting businesses across Australia, with finance predicted to be among the most affected. So should accountants be worried?

As an accountant, I’ve read with alarm the reports about jobs most at risk from technological changes. Top of the list, invariably, are accountants and bookkeepers. So, will CPA eventually just stand for Car Parking Attendant?

I’m pleased to say the answer’s no.

These changes have been foretold for quite a while and relate mostly to compliance and data entry work. At the heart of the coming storm are two factors: the explosion of cloud accounting, and the growth in outsourcing compliance work as part of the growing global economy.

Change can be challenging. Confronting. Frightening. Especially for traditionally conservative accountants, but no less for other sectors.

So it’s a timely warning for all businesses: your industry will be disrupted – significantly – by technology. It may have already been. It may be happening right now. But back it in: you’ll eventually be disrupted.

However, with change comes opportunity. Whether you see change as a threat or an opportunity will determine whether you evolve or dissolve. If you can embrace it, you can transform your relationship with customers – and transform your business in the process.

accountant looking at an invoice whilst operating a calculator

Deeper relationships, more value

The cloud has revolutionised accounting, but by streamlining mundane and repetitive compliance activities, it’s enabled accountants to focus on providing proactive business growth advice. We’ve moved from bean-counter to business adviser.

Cloud accounting gives clients more accurate and real-time data at their fingertips – from anywhere with an internet connection – that can easily be shared with their accountant. It’s then up to the accountant to capitalise on the accurate and timely information to drive effective decision making and engage with clients more deeply, proactively and profitably.

So how do you ensure you’re not replaced by robots?

Look through your customers’ eyes

For my money, this is the ultimate way to go with the disruption flow. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently encouraged businesses to forget the money (for adopting new digital technologies) and serve customers first, as the profits will follow. This ethos underpins looking at your business through your customers’ eyes.

We owners can develop a rose-coloured view of things, but by putting your customer first and seeing things from their viewpoint, you’ll be more likely to service them in the way they want and develop a robust relationship. 

Never be satisfied  

Always look for ways you can service your customers better. How can you make their life easier? How can you give them exactly what they want? Because if you don’t ask these questions, you can be sure a competitor is – possibly one with a revolutionary way of meeting those needs. That’s as true for accountants as it is for other service industries.

What changes to your people, or what improvements to your processes – or totally new processes incorporating technology – are needed to continually keep your customers happy?

Go out and talk

One of the biggest tools for an accountant to stay relevant is also one of the easiest: Ask your customers.

It’s dangerous to presume what they want; go out and talk to them. Ask what they like about interacting with your business, and what their frustrations are. These insights can help you identify areas you need to improve, so you can plan for change.

Don’t limit yourself

If your mission, vision, core values or ‘why’ are too limited, you can cut yourself off from opportunities to harness new technologies to evolve, expand and diversify.

Ensure you use broad terminology, and use emotive language to go deeper than just what you currently do. For example, rather than just facilitate home loans, a mortgage broker makes the great Aussie dream come true.

Summary

Just as the abacus, calculator and computer have each transformed how accountants do our jobs, cloud accounting is but another branch on the evolutionary tree. Technology is a tool – and it’s up to us to seize the opportunity technology provides so we strengthen and deepen our customer relationships.

Good businesses don’t see technology as a threat. Good businesses have built strong relationships that will only be enhanced by embracing technology to improve the customer experience.

Clients in finance are changing, along with the technology to service them.

Explore the changing face of finance.

Find Out More

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