Key trends for the accountancy profession in 2019
Accountancy, like any other profession is going through a number of changes. These changes are experienced across the board from job descriptions, staffing, technology, talent and cloud accounting. As this New Year progresses, it is critical to understand what the profession holds. To better appreciate this, Sakwah Kenya held an exclusive interview with Michael Armstrong (FCA and ICAEW Regional Director for Middle East Africa).
What are the expectations regarding job descriptions?
Job descriptions have become more flexible, in today’s environment, it is has become quite a challenge to find a candidate who can meet all of a company’s hiring criteria. It is therefore expected that accounting firms will be out to look for candidates possessing the most critical skills and then providing new employees the training needed to succeed on the job.
This strategy results in a larger pool of candidates and serves as a valuable recruiting tool. Future employees especially top accounting students, look for businesses that are generous with professional development.
Skilled professionals are key towards the optimal performance of any organisation. What will be the outlook in regards to staffing?
A company can better control costs when its managers can quickly staff up and down as demands change. Therefore many businesses will continue to have a mix of full-time and interim staff. Core team members take care of day-to-day tasks, while specialized consultants and temporary professionals handle the extra load and work on critical projects when in-house staff lack the requisite skills or capacity.
What key technological trend should the profession expect?
This year we will continue to see accountants remaining agile, adapting to increasing disruption, embracing new technologies while evolving their business models in an environment of changing legal, regulatory and industry standards in response to heightened community expectations. This will require greater transparency and individual accountability.
A key trend will be the progressive full automation in labour-intensive tasks like tax preparation, payroll and audits and banking.
How will talent affect the present accounting profession?
According to latest research on business needs, the top concern happens to be finding the talent to service businesses. As accounting enters a new chapter in the evolution of the industry, it is never been more important for firms to have a team of skilled, talented and flexible accounting professionals.
As I’ve alluded to, the accounting profession is constantly evolving and this offers a huge opportunity for the profession to be more relevant than ever. Achieving this will require us to train and develop people with a different range of skills and abilities.
For 2019 and beyond, the mix of skillsets is critical. The profession will need people who have accounting skills but who are also extremely IT literate. Analytical capability is coming to the fore – and also the ability to code and work with a range of new technologies. Increasingly “soft” skills are also in high demand, such as communication, strategic thinking, negotiation and leadership.