Many people associate working in finance and accounting with inputting invoices to the system, monotonous work on a pile of documents or tracking tax issues. Nothing could be further from the truth! An accountant’s career requires continuous development, facing unusual challenges and mastering new technologies. Cloud-based solutions, robotisation, blockchain, machine learning or AI – these concepts create a new reality for modern accountants.
A pen, a document briefcase and a calculator are no longer the attributes of today’s accountants.
These symbols have been replaced by a computer with modern software and apps. Some of the repetitive tasks are now performed by machines, reducing the error margin, optimising and accelerating many processes. Employees of accounting departments have at their disposal innovative solutions, which e.g. convert invoice scans, extract invoice data for posting and payment or automatically prepare reports. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, whose main task is to collect information necessary for effective management of the company and optimal planning of the use of its resources, are also a standard solution today. Such software supports companies in managing all business processes related to human resources, marketing, sales, purchases and finally finance and accounting. ERPs facilitate many accounting tasks – from automatic submission of tax returns, through support for foreign transactions, to full handling of fixed assets and related automatic posting of depreciation allowances. New IT technologies also help to protect personal data in accordance with GDPR requirements.
Due to digitalisation and innovative solutions, both accounting offices and accounting departments in small companies and in international corporations are able to work faster, more efficiently and with far less printed documents. The advantages in favour of using accounting software also include lower error risk when issuing invoices and performing settlements with the tax office, quick and less burdensome filling of PIT and VAT tax returns or compliance with applicable regulations. Moreover, data obtained using new technologies facilitate advantageous investment and management decisions. Consequently, expectations faced by accountants are much higher than in the past – they increasingly take over the roles of advisors and business partners of sales, investment or HR teams.
Working in accounting in the 21st century
The change in the nature of the modern accountant’s work requires current and potential employees to acquire new skills and to learn all the time. The ideal candidate for this position must know the local accounting conditions, follow the constantly changing law and tax regulations, and cope perfectly with the challenges related to dynamic technological changes. The candidate needs to be able to handle complex EPR systems with a dedicated accounting module (e.g. SAP, JD Edwards, Microsoft Navision or Axapta) or tools directly dedicated to the needs of accounting departments, such as financial and accounting FK systems (e.g. Unit4 TETA ERP, WF-FaKir, CDN OPT!MA, IFS, RAMZES, or Sage Symphony ERP). Of course, we must not forget that in order to take full advantage of the functionalities of ERP or FK systems, it is necessary to use Excel efficiently (knowledge of pivot tables is an absolute minimum).
However, no modern technology can replace soft skills, which often determine the acquisition, retention and satisfaction of external and internal customers. Claudia Perez Gutierrez, Consultant in Accountancy & Finance team in Devire Germany, says that “modern accountants are expected to take a creative and effective approach to solving problems, come up with proposals and also to analyse, draw correct conclusions quickly and anticipate risks. It is worth building business relations and showing that we are a partner for conversation, not a “sad necessity”. Employees working in financial teams must be open to change, and even initiate the need to optimise processes which, thanks to time savings, will allow financiers to take care of more important tasks that the tools are not able to do for them. From a business perspective, additional value stems from working with a financial team conscious of the company character, able to communicate with people efficiently, make them aware of the symbiosis between them and, above all, support company owners or corporate boards”.
This is a huge scope of competence going beyond the stereotypical accountant’s tasks. New opportunities and challenges make the accountant’s profession increasingly interesting.
Machines are changing accounting
Advanced technologies do not replace professional accountants, but revolutionise the character of this profession. Innovative solutions make a good accountant a financier who, apart from knowledge and experience related to accounting, understands and co-creates business. People who are open to change and have a constant thirst for knowledge should consider working in accounting.