Major industry conferences and events are always a great opportunity to take the pulse of a profession and get to grips with the concerns, opportunities and debates that are percolating within it. So, as iwoca returns to Accountex for a third year, we thought it was worth assessing the major topics we expect to crop up in conversation when more than 8,000 accountancy and finance professionals meet up for the annual Accountex London conference.
It’s clear that accounting outsourcing is on the rise. But the profession seems split on whether this is a good thing. On the positive side, in-house staff can untangle themselves from some bookkeeping, accountants can be used on more worthwhile tasks and structural skills gaps can be easily bridged. On the other hand, the lack of centralised project management means your firm risks inefficient and disorganised systems, a lower standard of service and, inevitably, unhappy customers.
Like many other industries, accounting is fast migrating to the cloud and the benefits are clear: real-time processing allows for more accurate reporting; multiple users can access the information at any one time; and the software as a service model (SaaS) is cost-effective. But what’s next? As the tax system becomes more digital this spring, among others we look forward to catching up with iwoca partner Xero to hear more about the future of accounting in the cloud.
Much like the cloud, automation technology is sweeping the accounting sector. The opportunities include lowering costs, off-loading tedious or repetitive tasks – such as data entry – to machines, and freeing up staff to focus on more creative or challenging projects. But it remains to be seen if this switch leaves firms out of touch with their clients and losing the nuanced and very human understanding of their customer’s businesses.
A conversation that will undoubtedly stem from that of automation is how intrinsic trust is in the sector. First and foremost, clients need to know their advisors have accurate and reliable advice, but beyond that is a need for them to trust in their accountant’s data security, skill-set, planning for the future and good old-fashioned honesty. Trust is one resource that’d hard won and easily lost.
We're also looking forward to discussing what you, Accountex attendees, think are the incoming trends ready to disrupt accounting. So whatever your teams are focused on, make sure you visit stand 870 to have a chat about the future of the sector, and find out a bit more about us.