Friday 14th Jan 2022
Everything changes and nothing stays the same, which is as true for accounting as it is for anything else. 2022 brings lots of changes; some major and others minor, some as a result of the pandemic and Brexit and others due to emerging technologies, changes in compliancy rules and different ways of thinking about how we relate to others and take care of ourselves.
Whilst it can be difficult to work out which areas should be prioritised, we hope we can help by listing 5 areas that we think are important and will give you a step up in 2022 in your professional accounting career.
The accounting profession has been around for a long time but only in the last few decades has it moved from a paper-based activity to one that relies almost exclusively on the new technologies that are around today.
The digital transformation has changed the way accountants work and there are many positives to this. The benefits of automation include reduced costs and improved efficiency as there is now no longer any need to spend time on mundane and error inducing manual tasks of data entry, data verification and the storage of documents, freeing up time to develop other ways to improve the accountant’s role.
The emergence of big data has also changed the playing field in a big way. The ability to analyse the industries patterns and trends provides accountants who understands these technologies a huge opportunity to use their skills analysing information extracted from large sets of data. This information can be used to perform more effectively in their role and to greatly benefit their clients.
Understanding the importance and the potential of investing in these new technologies will allow organisations to stay ahead of the game allowing their accountants to play a more strategic and creative role in their companies. This will ensure that the company has more flexibility to deal with changes in the future allowing it to become more resilient and competitive.
The purpose of compliancy rules is to standardise financial statements so that all companies are comparable. Compliancy ensures that everyone is following the same rules with regard to the recording of assets, liabilities, expenses and revenues. If an accountancy firm deviates from these rules or is not aware of them, they may face a legal challenge with financial penalties and a damaged reputation affecting their ability to attract new business in the future.
It is extremely important and beneficial for any accountancy firm to keep abreast of current compliancy rules to ensure that the accounting information they present to their clients is transparent and accurate. As more and more businesses are operating globally and as all countries have their own set of accounting rules and standards, it is important that accountancy firms are aware of these to avoid making potentially costly mistakes when preparing financial statements.
Businesses that use trusted accountants will attract more investors. Financial statements that have been prepared following current compliancy rules allow potential investors to make more accurate and rational decisions. Businesses whose accounting is standardised will find it easier to obtain bank loans and subsidies. If your accounting firm has a good reputation for keeping up to date with compliancy rules you will attract better and more valuable clients in the future.
3. Client relationships
2022 will see a different approach to how people work with their clients, in particular accountancy firms. Due to the pandemic, the last 12 – 18 months has seen the emergence of completely different ways of dealing with clients. The impact of Brexit has created new problems for many businesses and clients have needed a lot of help in working their way through the many issues raised. Most meetings during this period were conducted online and lots of us have had to start thinking outside the box, coming up with different ways to conduct business that don’t include seeing people or getting too close to anyone, including our own colleagues. Many of us are now way more proficient in the use of technology for conducting business than we ever were before.
Moving forward it is highly unlikely that a one size fits all approach to your clients is going to work. The pandemic has changed us all and exposed us to fears, thoughts and expectations that weren’t even on the horizon pre-pandemic. Each client is likely to have differing needs, some may be anxious about returning to meeting in person and some may be desperate to be in the same room as a living breathing individual.
Moving into 2022 it will be a huge benefit in your role as an accountant to prioritise your client relationships. Don’t ignore the importance of developing emotional intelligence as it will help you to work with others more effectively, with empathy and with an awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses - this will help your clients feel heard and valued.
Your communication skills will need to alter to encompass changes in the technology, what works in a face-to-face meeting doesn’t often carry over in a virtual setting. You will almost certainly need to have the conversation with regard to how future meetings will take place, some will be happy to continue with virtual meetings and some may want a combination of the two. Whatever it is, it is important to be considerate to your clients and their needs.
The world of an accountant is one that is ever changing. Having the mindset and the ability to embrace change and to be flexible will be hugely beneficial to both you and to your clients. Researching current industry trends and making sure you are on top of developments in the accounting field will mean you need to keep learning to improve your skills, but this allows you to go further in your career and to always be at least one step ahead of the competitors.
5. Self care
Life as an accountant can be stressful and busy. Many firms prioritise hard work, long hours, achievement, money and status and it can be hard to avoid getting sucked into a life where work takes precedent over health. Working too hard and for too long however can risk burning out. To avoid burnout it is very important to acknowledge the value of self care and a good work life balance.
We are becoming increasingly aware of the value of self care and accountancy firms need to prioritise their employees in 2022 if they want to remain competitive. If your employees reach a point of burnout, you could risk losing them along with all their skills, training and expertise.