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Accountants, auditors: wouldn't you rather predict the future than respond to it?

Accountants, auditors: wouldn't you rather predict the future than respond to it?

We live in an age of fast-paced change, driven by technology. Futurists say they have to update their annual reports bi-annually now, as their predictions come to pass quicker than they could have imagined. Accountants and auditors are not immune. Technology is changing the profession profoundly.

Two future developments that have now become certainties are automation and the cloud.

It is predicted that robotics and artificial intelligence will replace up to 5 percent of all jobs globally by 2020. Even though we think that the African continent will be lagging a few years behind the developed world, we have to acknowledge that technology is already impacting nearly all areas of our lives in one or another way. When it comes to accountants and auditors, technology already offers a platform on which small and medium practices can compete on the same level as their network firm counterparts.

In fact, technology has provided more growth opportunities than ever before for financial professionals of any size firm to bid for a piece of the pie. Technology not only automates, but ultimately should reduce complexities, creating a simple, transparent process, one that allows you to spend less time compiling, and more time interpreting the information.

Finding the right solution

Often financial professionals develop their own solutions. These home-grown solutions are difficult to keep updated in line with legislative changes, while managing the change in formulas with multiple contributors makes it challenging to deliver the set of financial statements on time. It makes much more sense to tap into the benefits of existing global solutions that can be localised for: small, medium and large practices; medium to large corporate organisations, and even public entities across the continent.

Ultimately, financial professionals want to save time and increase profitability. Automation can offer you just that. With automation, you'll discover new ways of working to help your: practice; business or public entity, prosper with efficient and compliant reporting and auditing tools. Businesses often look at automating their manual processes by replicating them digitally. What is the true value in that? Don't digitise a broken process, rather re-engineer it whilst investing in automation. The outcomes should be managed in terms of productivity and quality.

Drafting solutions in the market today should allow you to import a trial balance from any accounting system out there, or even from Excel. Once the trial balance has been allocated to compliance reporting categories, via a pre-defined set of accounts, software can instantaneously produce a set of financial statements—something that used to take days, even weeks. Should there be a requirement for consolidation between multiple company data into a single set of financial statements, software solutions allow for hierarchy set-ups that can produce consolidation structures with true aggregation and elimination capabilities.

All at the click of a button

These sets of annual financial statements become the starting point of informed decisions in the business today, directly impacting the business of tomorrow, while an audit report proves the health of the organisation for investors, institutes recognition for the organisation's efforts and promotes market trust. Once submitted to the auditors, the electronic file will live in their part of the ecosystem, allowing them to apply an automated audit methodology that allows for collaboration on the engagement from anywhere, at any time, through the power of the cloud.

What's in the cloud

Cloud technology is a model that is driving behaviour globally. The increasing growth in the number of online shopping transactions is one of many examples. The concerns around cloud security have been addressed by a broad set of policies, technologies, and controls deployed to protect data, applications, and the associated infrastructure of cloud computing.

By using the cloud, you can collaborate and store data in a secure environment, thus significantly reducing risk. Technology suppliers normally take care of hosting as part of the cloud solution. This means no more shared folders, local server costs and multiple versions of one file—just one central data repository with version control in a secure cloud environment which is access-controlled.

The beauty about cloud computing is that ever-evolving organisations are supported by developing tools, as updates are pushed out as and when they happen, giving end users access to new features and functionality almost immediately.

How would this affect accountants and auditors?

These changes are driving a significant shift in the roles of accountants and auditors. This shift may even accelerate as more businesses adopt the cloud.

Cloud impacts not only the way we work, but also the way we work with one another. We call this the ecosystem. These changes will fundamentally alter the DNA of the financial professional. Be more than an accountant, be more than just an auditor! Become an adviser by tapping into the enablement tools available to you. Reimagine the way you do business. Redesign the way you deliver value. Rethink the way you use your time.

It is important to realise that cloud solutions will never replace accountants and auditors, but will significantly change the way they work and the value they add to their clients. Cloud empowers accountants and auditors, by freeing up time in their day to work with clients in a more effective way. To add value beyond delivering a set of numbers or an audit report. By allowing them the space to interpret the data and provide real advice based on trends, data analytics and predictions.

Wouldn't you rather predict the future than respond to it?

Take the first step. Automate your own practice or organisation and get a deeper understanding of the benefits of technology and the cloud and come up with a new value proposition. Adopt technology today to become a financial professional of tomorrow, and become part of the future generation auditors and accountants.

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