Accounting 2020: Questions, Concerns, and Areas of Focus for Accountants in a New Decade
As we are embarking on the start of a new decade, one thing is certain, the accounting profession will continue to evolve. Recently, Accounting Today conducted its annual survey of accounting firms to get a sense of what 2020 has in store for us. While concerns about COVID-19 will — and in most cases, already have — undoubtedly become a major concern for businesses and accounting departments this year, a handful of themes accountants are more than familiar with are still concerns in the new year.
Keeping up with New Technology is One of the Biggest Concerns
Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before. Long known as the function that rarely evolved, accountants in 2020 are more focused than ever on identifying and implementing technology to eliminate redundant processes and empower team members to work smarter, not harder.
According to the survey, technology showed up in the top three concerns, with 36 percent of respondents ranking it equal to concerns with acquiring and retaining new clients.
Last year, FloQast’s survey of Financial Controllers also highlighted technology’s importance in the accounting field with 96 percent of the respondents reporting technology has a significant impact on their role. Furthermore, they spend 78 percent more time on IT management then in the past.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) also ties the use of technology to a competitive advantage that employees get excited about, fostering a higher level of employee engagement and contributing to higher retention rates.
With these findings, it is more important than ever that technology is a high priority in your company and consideration for implementing the software that will have the most potential for a positive impact at the top of your list. Out of five different types of potential software innovations, the aforementioned survey Financial Controllers ranked close management software at the top of the list for positive impacts.
Starting the year by conducting an analysis of the areas within your company that could benefit from new technology improvements, then implementing a process to evaluate which will have the highest impact will help clarify the best use of your technology resources for the year.
Recruiting and Retaining Good Employees is the Top Concern for 2020
This is not a surprising concern considering a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the unemployment rate for accountants was 2.0 percent for the third quarter of 2019. The BLS outlook for the profession also predicts employment for accountants is projected to grow six percent by 2028. The combination growth in the number of positions and low unemployment rates will force the industry to explore new ways to attract and retain top talent. These three areas come up time and time again as key focuses to win the recruiting and retention game.
Employee engagement initiatives increase loyalty resulting in increases in retention and company brand ambassadors.
The AICPA suggests employers focus on specific initiatives to foster employee engagement. Some of the suggestions include:
- Show employees the big picture through a one-page strategic plan and increase the transparency of what it takes to run the company from an entrepreneurial perspective.
- Get employees involved by providing a clear picture of both the advancement opportunities and competencies required to move up the career ladder. Going as far as providing a career development plan focusing on the strengths of the employee and providing opportunities for mentorship programs will pay dividends.
- Provide opportunities for community involvement both as a work team and outside of the office. Volunteering as a work team provides additional opportunities for team building. Also, studies have shown that the mortality rate decreases for people that volunteer.
Work/life balance focused on meeting the changing needs of the workforce gives companies a competitive advantage. Especially considering recent events, remote work continues to be a focus for increasing employee flexibility. In a recent post, we explore why we believe remote work is the future of accounting.
Inclusive cultures recognize diversity and generational differences as advantages. Companies with a focus in this area provide education as well as strategic opportunities for diverse teams to work together on projects.
With the start of the new decade, it is not surprising most of us are focused on technology and employees as the keys to a company’s future success.