Back with our guest bloggers The Accountancy Partnership (check out their first piece on How to Perfect a Cover Letter for Accounting). This time out, Content Writer Lauren Wise looks into…

The Future for Accounting and How Graduates Fit In

To the untrained eye, the accounting industry may not seem to have embraced new technologies. While it’s true that spreadsheets are still largely used for bookkeeping, and there is a heavy reliance on paper receipts and documents, the accounting and finance sector is more forward thinking than you think.

As an industry whose entire foundation is on financial security and data input, there have been huge improvements in how data is stored in recent years. Accounting actually employs the use of numerous new technologies in order to speed up processes and provide clients with a more reliable service.

So, if you’re a graduate waiting to jump into accounting now is a great time to take the leap. You’ll be at the forefront of a changing industry, which will provide you with skills you never thought you’d need as an accountant.

To help you picture your future accounting position, here are some of the most prominent changes that will shape the industry’s future.

Cloud accounting

Advances in cloud computing have meant that saving and updating financial data no longer has to be a tedious, drawn out process. Spreadsheets may still be widely used, but that looks set to change as cloud accounting becomes more popular.

Accountants can save time with cloud accounting software that will reduce the amount of data they need to input with automatic processes. Cloud accounting also allows accountants to work with their clients on software remotely and simultaneously, making explaining processes much easier.

The rise in cloud accounting use will give accountants time to mentor clients on their tax efficiency, requiring them to take up in part a leadership role.

Making Tax Digital

Cloud accounting is also the principal factor of the new HMRC initiative, Making Tax Digital.

The scheme will be introduced in April 2019 and will replace the current Self Assessment system with a quarterly update on financial information. Individuals will provide HMRC with relevant information through the use of an accounting system, which they will need understand in order to do.

It’s more than likely that questions concerning various software will come to you, the accountant. Therefore, you will be required to have an in depth understanding of various software in order to ease the transition for those completing a Self Assessment.

Untraditional employment

As cloud software becomes a more important factor for accountants, working outside an office is a prospect that could be part of your future accounting career.

While freelance might be something you’re interested in trying, it’s recommended that you work in an accounting firm for a few years before you head out on your own, as this will prepare you for obstacles that would otherwise halt your freelance work.

If you’re keen to try flexible working sooner rather than later, some companies are happy for, and even encourage, accountants to work remotely; particularly if they have children or a long commute to the office. The adaptability of remote work is a rewarding feature for those who struggle to balance work/life balance in a full time accounting position.

Freelance and remote working will allow companies to save money on overheads that can instead be invested back into the company for expansion. As the accountant, you will need to be willing to work flexibly in order to accommodate the growing number of clients.

The graduates’ role

The combination of the increase in cloud accounting use, the introduction of Making Tax Digital and a rise in untraditional employment methods mean your role in accounting will look starkly different from the role five years ago.

For graduates looking to start out in accounting, you’ll need to be able to present a varied skillset to future employers as the role of the accountant gradually shifts towards a mentor, advisor and financial expert.

In order to succeed, you’ll need to be prepared to work in a transforming industry. Skills such as strong communication, adaptability, commercial awareness and an in depth understanding of relevant IT skills will be invaluable to you as you begin your career, and will undoubtedly impress potential employers.

This article was written by Lauren Wise, content writer for The Accountancy Partnership.

Many thanks to Lauren and Kara for their insights and advice, and to Phil Gemmell for setting this up. If there are any other topics you’d like to see covered, either by our good selves or one of our guest writers, leave a comment or email us – careers@brighton.ac.uk.