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What does the future of accountancy look like?

Technology is revolutionising many everyday aspects of life. So it shouldn’t be surprising that people expect it to also be at the core of how a business handles its spending too.

In fact, an ACCA report on accounting technology trends from 2013 outlined “Unless accountants embrace technology they will follow the dinosaur into extinction – individually and as a profession.” And that was eight years ago…

Usually when we think of technology disrupting industries, there’s the fear that maybe one day robots will take our jobs, or even become our bosses — but the opposite is true for accountants. Instead, technology will allow for more innovation.

It’s only a matter of time until admin tasks are handed off entirely, which is good news for you. Instead of spending most of your time bogged down with menial work, you’ll be able to take on more clients and help them reach their business goals.

To find out more about what the future holds for accountancy, we surveyed our partners, a community of accountants using Pleo to manage their clients’ finances.

This report is based on the results of a recent survey conducted by Pleo with a total of 191 respondents who are part of our Partner Portal, spread across Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the UK.

72% of accountants think bookkeeping and data collection will be automated in the next ten years

The first record of accounting dates back 7,000 years ago among the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia.

And while we’ve definitely come a long way from recording on stone tablets and using bone tokens to keep track of transactions, many tasks like bookkeeping are stubbornly old school.

But there’s hope for the future as more accounting practices and their clients embrace technology. 

78% of accountants think software will take over administrative tasks within the next five years

And it’s not just data collection and bookkeeping that’ll likely be fully automated in the near future. The same can be said for almost all administrative tasks that fall on accountants’ desks every week. 

The idea of handing off the more mundane, repetitive aspects of an accountant’s workload to software has always sounded attractive. And it’s one trend that’s now going mainstream.

It’s something we help with too — 86% of partners say Pleo has helped them reduce time spent on administrative tasks.

And who wouldn’t want to leave bank reconciliations and data entry to software?

77% of accountants think accounting will be more cloud-based within the next five years

This past year has been a catalyst for many businesses to embrace the digital revolution, and this rang true for accountants too. 

In fact, a study by Accounting Today estimated that the cloud accounting industry is expected to reach a value of $11.8 billion by 2026.

But what are some of the benefits of cloud-based accounting? Well, not only does this technology free up accountants’ time, but it also means every piece of data is updated in real-time and backed up automatically — reducing the risk of data being hacked or compromised. 

However, it’s interpreting this data that is a more difficult task. That’s why it’s estimated that AI will play a major role in this process. Being able to analyze data on a large scale with the help of technology will allow accountants to confidently make market predictions, avoid financial risks, detect fraud, audit more accurately and much more. You can read more on this topic in our eBook.

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68% of accountants think consultancy and advisory work will become more important within the next five years

Accountants’ expertise means they can see more than just numbers on a page. They’re able to help make better business decisions with finances in mind — something that many companies may have experienced during 2020.

Forward-thinking accountants have the power to become a sort of external CFO, trusted to ensure clients are in the best possible financial position. It’s a big responsibility – but an exciting one too.

This kind of opportunity is made possible by technological advances, freeing up accountants’ time so they can offer real value to their clients. And Pleo is an example of this, according to Joe David, founder of Nephos, a UK-based accounting firm. 

“It makes our lives a lot easier because we’re receiving receipts to support the spend that a company is making, much more regularly. That saves us a lot of time… So we’re not focusing on processing our customers’ paperwork, but on advising their business.”

65% of accountants feel it’s challenging to get clients on board with new technology

It’s inevitable that an industry with processes that have barely changed since its dawn faces some questions when it comes to creating new solutions — even if your clients can admit that manually dealing with spending causes grief every month.

But here’s the thing, we’ve got years of experience helping customers switch from manual to automated expense management — our feature Pocket is just one example of this, a centralised hub that keeps track of the money owed between employees and the company. 

Need a helping hand? Our proactive Partnerships team is here to help with anything — from onboarding or technical queries to how you can encourage your clients to embrace technology, so you can wave goodbye to manual workflows for good. 

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