Technology’s Role in the Attractiveness of the Accounting Profession and Qualification

In his blog our CEO shares personal insights from a career in accounting and tech 

Two interactions in recent days sparked my thinking for this week’s blog.

The first was with a new contact in Australia. In our first interaction he shared his firm’s resourcing challenges. A quite common pain-point for firms across the world. But what was different was that they are increasingly seeing staff leave the firm mid-way through their training contract, and thus their qualification studies, to go in a completely different career direction.

Then I saw several social media posts questioning the value of the CPA distinction – citing the related global qualifications as not moving with the pace of change, particularly in relation to technology.

Technology has undoubtedly changed the role of the accountant. It’s happened and is happening. With much more to come.

But being a leader in the profession and having a passion for technology means from my perspective technology is making the accounting profession more attractive to graduates. A few examples to provide some evidence behind that view:

  • We saw an increase this year in University / college students speaking with our team as part of their job search – to understand how technology would impact the role they were considering applying for in practice,
  • Several of our customers have shown our software at recruitment events, explaining how a student’s learning pathway will be different with a firm embracing technology,
  • Multiple customers have reported their highest graduate intakes ever this year – fuelled by fee income growth and being an attractive employer.

So, on the face of this we have more graduates coming into the accounting profession. Further supported by professional bodies sharing with me record levels of student numbers.

What a qualified accountant does now versus even 5 years ago is markedly different. Does that mean the qualification itself is less relevant? Not necessarily…

It could be argued the task encroachment of technology is making certain technical aspects of the qualification less critical. Knowing every complex tax rule, or audit requirement, isn’t as critical if technology supports humans by serving up such technical knowledge.

But accounting qualifications teach a far broader range of skills than purely technical skills. And even when teaching technical skills, what they are also teaching are social skills. Leadership, communication, problem solving, work ethic, flexibility and adaptability. These are the skills I personally use every day in leading a business.

Professional bodies are continually evolving the accounting qualification to keep pace with the modern world of work. But it is also on us – as leaders, as people in the profession closest to the action – to participate and support that evolution.

A great example of this is the work we are doing at Inflo with ICAEW to embed emerging technologies into their ACA qualification. This includes the theory and the practical. We set questions, present students the analytical results of an anonymised client for them to explore and interpret in Inflo, and they then write their answer. This opens a whole new range of skills we can teach, and the feedback from pilot students has been incredibly positive.

It’s a time for all accountants to put those social skills we learnt to use, showing the leadership and problem solving needed to continue to make the accounting profession attractive and the qualification relevant to the changing world of work.

View our on demand webinar from February 14thto hear 3 case studies from firms of various sizes regarding their technology journey. Run in partnership with ICAEW but free to non-members too.   

Mark Edmondson

Inflo President & CEO