From the evolution of cloud-based accounting to the dawn of artificial intelligence and automation, and the growing stabilisation of cryptocurrencies, there’s a lot of change on the horizon for accountants. Here are the top four accounting trends to be aware of in 2018.
1. Cloud-based accounting apps will continue to rise
Few technologies have transformed accounting as much as the cloud. Ten years ago, companies stored their financial data, transactions, and reports on internal servers – a costly and complicated enterprise. But, as cloud-based tools – that put real-time insights in the hands of business owners – are embraced, it will become imperative for accountants to adopt and use the technology.
Fortunately, some software providers have designed cloud-based tools specifically for professional accountants. For example, QuickBooks Online Accountant enables real-time business intelligence on the go. Manage client workflows and create customisable reports to suit clients’ needs, all from the platform’s easy-to-use dashboard.
2. Artificial intelligence will reimagine the age-old bookkeeping process
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already starting to rewrite the accounting landscape, but exactly what it will impact, and how soon, could still come as a surprise. According to Jean Baptiste Su, Vice-President of global research firm Atherton Research, accounting tasks, such as tax, payroll, audits, and even banking, will be fully automated by 2020.
Fortunately, most businesses are beginning to automate a number of basic accounting tasks. For example, cloud-based tools like QuickBooks Online enable owners to easily set up recurring invoices or payments, and automatically reconcile sales and costs against inventory (when connected with their point-of-sale software). This continuing shift will allow accountants to focus more on advising businesses on how to harness their potential and reach their goals, with less time spent bogged down in administrative tasks.
3. Data security will become a bigger priority
In March 2017, research firm IDC reported that the volume of data in the world will swell to 163 zettabytes by 2025. As data proliferates, so does the threat of data theft and cyberattacks. For the accounting sector – which deals in mammoth amounts of sensitive data – it’s more important than ever to prioritise and invest in data security. Making encryption a part of day-to-day processes, assessing how customer intelligence is stored, and keeping up with changing regulations will become essential to the industry’s long-term survival.
4. Cryptocurrencies will impact financial processes
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin, are already enabling businesses to accept payment without using a bank or financial institution. And while it may not be prevalent yet, it could change the game entirely. For business owners and accountants, cryptocurrencies will change the way payments are made and recorded, and will likely bring greater transparency to financial processes.
This year, you should expect more clients to enquire about cryptocurrencies, including how they work and how they will impact financial reporting and tax. From the continued rise of cloud-based tools and integrations to an ongoing focus on protecting your sensitive information from threat, the next 12 months presents plenty of opportunities for accounting professionals to future-proof their business.