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The Future of Accounting is Digital: F&A Predictions for 2021

2021 will see Finance & Accounting invest in technology to turbocharge their digital transformation journeys moving to a modern accounting model that unifies all of a company’s systems and data into a single source, automates manual, repetitive ...

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The future of accounting is digital – traditional manual accounting processes are not sustainable, and streamlining processes is going to be critical to survive.

COVID-19 has proved to be an incredible test for Finance & Accounting. The pandemic didn’t care where a company was in their digital finance transformation. Business changed radically, and so did Finance, as companies had to shift to a digital model overnight. According to a recent survey of F&A professionals by FSN, this led to unprecedented disruption:

  • 46% were disrupted by manual tasks that could no longer be carried out in the office 
  • 41% were disrupted due to the difficulty of just sharing paper documents
  • 36% were disrupted from limited access to on-premise solutions while they work from home

Everyone experienced a disrupted year, but for Finance & Accounting, the challenge exacerbated by the pandemic has been holding companies back for years. While so many other parts of business have benefitted from digital transformation, Finance & Accounting is too often still getting the job done with the same tools and technology they have used for decades, still relying on spreadsheets and manual processes. Manual processes take too long, create unnecessary risk and hurt morale and productivity. Simply put, traditional manual accounting processes are not sustainable.

2021 will see Finance & Accounting invest in technology to turbocharge their digital transformation journeys moving to a modern accounting model that unifies all of a company’s systems and data into a single source, automates manual, repetitive activities that drain time and energy, and provides real-time information and analysis to inform business decisions.

It is no longer a question of if Finance & Accounting should digitize – it’s now a question of how best to do it.

Finance & Accounting is moving to a future where almost everything is in the cloud with most work able to be done on mobile devices.

The virtual accounting function has arrived. The pandemic has been a forcing function, and now 74% of CFOs say they intend to grow remote work permanently, according to Gartner. It’s never been more important for the applications accountants use every day to be responsive to the way they work.

Storing data in the cloud allows instant access to computing resources from anywhere at any time. Information is updated in real-time which allows accountants to analyze and make decisions quickly. Additionally, while initially it was only consumer software, business software will increasingly be available on mobile devices so everyone from the Staff Accountant to the Controller, every skill level from contingent worker to tenured accountant, can work smarter and be more productive, in the office, at home, from anywhere.

Finance & Accounting organizations will place a priority on investing in their people and change their recruiting processes to attract the right candidates.

Life is overwhelming right now. People are being asked to do a lot more, never turn off, and juggle a lot more pressures. Recruiting new talent was already an industry-wide challenge for finance and accounting before the pandemic, and now nurturing existing employees is more important than ever.

In 2021, Finance & Accounting organizations will increasingly invest in tools and technologies that help their employees better manage their time, whether it be automation for repetitive, time consuming tasks, or collaboration tools which help teams find creative ways to connect.

As the world of finance evolves, companies will need to find people with an increasingly diverse set of skills. As technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation (RPA) become more widespread, organizations will come to rely on individuals who are motivated to learn new skills and embrace change. 

Businesses must therefore learn to recognize attributes that can complement traditional knowledge or qualifications – such as creativity. These qualities can be difficult to identify in traditional interview settings, where the focus is often on technical questioning that doesn’t necessarily highlight the full potential of young talent. As such, companies need to re-think their hiring processes in 2021 if they want to remain competitive.

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