Key technological and procedural advancements can have a deep impact on professionals across different industries. New technology trends require professionals to shift long-held working styles to reap the advantages of these new strategies. While internal business departments like information technology see changes like this on a more frequent basis, other departments like accounting typically do not. However, accountants must also be flexible and agile, and be able to leverage new, trending technology to enhance their efficiency and productivity.
The future of accounting is heavily impacted by an array of different factors, including tech advancements like machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation, as well as shifting government and industry standards. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the future of the accounting industry, and how globalization and other critical trends will shape this field going forward.
Tech advancements: Automation and the cloud
Tech trends, including those that encompass highly advanced innovations like automation assisted by AI and/or ML as well as the cloud, are also impacting future accounting education and processes.
Automation in particular is shifting internal accounting workloads to eliminate repetitive and time-consuming financial processes that were previously performed manually by accountants. Activities like data entry and invoice approval are now aided through automated solutions which handle these tasks through AI. In this way, employees have more time to focus on higher-value accounting work, and can reduce the time and effort they spend on these manual processes.
“Perhaps the biggest sea change facing the accounting profession is the arrival of computational power that could make data entry obsolete,” Amy Vetter, CPA/CITP, CGMA explains in an article for the Journal of Accountancy. “The less time CPAs have to spend reconciling the figures, the more time they have to focus on helping clients grow and succeed.”
In addition, as more organizations continue to take advantage of the cloud, the technology opens up new opportunities — as well as new challenges — within the accounting field. On one hand, cloud solutions that provide secure access to company financial platforms and data can enable accountants to take advantage of teleworking opportunities and other more flexible working styles.
However, the cloud also demands a sharper focus on data security, especially as it relates to highly sensitive financial information. Accounting leaders will need to work closely with information systems administrators to ensure that the proper precautions are taken to support data access, as well as information integrity and protection.
Globalization and international accounting
One element that’s affecting not only accounting, but business practices across the board, is the increasing prevalence of globalization. As Investopedia explains, globalization involves the spread of products, services, technology, information, and job roles across different nations, creating more interdependence among countries across the globe.
Overall, globalization can open up new opportunities for international business relationships and trade, and can also help boost modernization and access to jobs, products, and services in less developed nations. At the same time, though, and especially from an accounting standpoint, this rise in business trade and relationships that cross borders can also create new challenges for internal accountants. Many of these struggles concern the different financial reporting standards in place within each nation, and the inconsistencies that can exist between these regulations.
Investors and accountants must pinpoint the key reporting differences involved when they’re working to provide funding for a capital-seeking company in another country. While the accountant’s organization may be a U.S.-based business and leverage American accounting standards, these rules and practices are not the same for organizations in Europe or other areas.
The accounting industry is working to create a more unified set of standards through the International Accounting Standards Board. This governing body makes efforts to reduce the gap between the U.S.’s Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the International Reporting Standards (IFRS).
As Bruce Pounder, CMA, CFM, points out, GAAP standards are not as imperative to professional accounting as they once were, particularly in the face of globalization. “While there are many similarities between international standards and U.S. GAAP, significant differences do exist, and today, U.S. standards are not automatically presumed ‘better,’” Pounder writes. “This situation has affected the process by which both U.S. and international standards are developed and maintained, and has already resulted in changes to both U.S. and international standards.”
In this way, the future of accounting from a standards-based standpoint is still coming together, and students as well as professionals in the field should expand their awareness and expertise around international guidelines like IFRS.
How to prepare for the future of accounting
As trends like the rise in international business practices and emerging technology continue to shape the accounting profession, it’s important for students and professionals to keep up with these changes. One of the best ways to do this is through an advanced degree like the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business online Bachelor of Science in Accounting. This online degree program explores a wide range of topics in the accounting industry, and helps students develop the skills they need to succeed in their careers now and into the future.
To find out more about the future of accounting, and how a degree from Collat School of Business can benefit your career, connect with one of our University of Alabama at Birmingham enrollment advisors today.
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