Whether it’s navigating the financial impacts of Brexit, working with innovative technology, or educating clients on government regulations and COVID support packages, 2020 was a year of rapid change and accountants have been at the forefront.
Here, Tom Kelly, Strategic Lead for Accountancy and Employment Services at Modulr examines how, in this far from static world, the accountancy skill set has had to evolve to reflect an equal measure of agility, future-thinking and problem-solving, as well as combining technical and professional skills to stay relevant.
Given the turbulence of the past year, it’s not surprising that a recent global survey of finance and accounting professionals by IMA found that 12% of respondents believe their skills won’t be relevant in a post-COVID world. And, with 22% of accountants not confident in their ability to grapple with the new world order, there’s a clear need for upskilling.
Top 3 Skills of an Accountant in a Post-COVID World
The period of unprecedented change we witnessed during 2020 has undoubtedly impacted the accounting industry. Many accountants have had to step into new roles or change their ways of working all-together. Once seen as only number crunchers, accountants have had to become a source of emotional support for clients, provided advisory services to help navigate challenges, and worked with new, innovative technology as the world went digital.
Here are some of the must-have skills for accountants looking to adapt to the new way of working, post pandemic.
“Future accountants will be able to add value beyond a firm’s technical know-how through emotional intelligence and networking skills” – International Federation of Accountants.
Across all businesses, emotional intelligence played a key role in those that succeeded and those that didn’t. Research shows that emotional intelligence accounts for almost 90% of what sets high-performer leaders apart from their similarly skilled counterparts. Never has this been more evident than in the accounting industry during COVID.
As the economy declined and businesses were forced to close, clients turned to their accountants for emotional support. So much so, emotional support ranked within the top 5 ways accountants supported clients during the past six months.
While the world will hopefully become more stable, accountants will continue to act as strategic advisors to support business owners in growing and scaling their companies and all of the emotional baggage that comes with that journey.
We’ve seen first-hand the importance of having a resilient, sustainable operational business model. Equipped with real-time data, accountants are often one of the first to raise alarms around business sustainability.
Accountants of the future will need to help clients understand and interpret financial data, identify potential risks, and create contingency plans. Surviving and thriving in our new world requires a sustainable business model based around continuity plans, procurement, inventory management, manufacturing and forecasting.
Accountants will need to hone their people skills to prove that they’re not just a number-cruncher but can provide added-value by acting as a strategic advisor to clients and help them make the most commercial opportunities.
COVID has set the stage for rapid digital transformation across almost every industry, and accountancy is no different. Research from Sage further emphasises the importance of technical knowledge with 83% of accountants agreeing that investing in innovative technology and digitalisation is essential for staying competitive.
With firms looking to integrate technology like Blockchain, AI, RPA and data analytics into their processes, it’ll be essential for accountants to keep up and understand how to work with this technology. So it’s not surprising that associations like IMA are stressing the importance of upskilling in this area to help accountants prepare for the future.
Accountants will not only need to know how to work with this technology but will also need to advise clients on modern concepts, like cloud computing.
Stay Ahead of the Game with Modulr Accountancy Pathfinders
So, if you’re a forward-thinking accountant looking to stay relevant in a post-COVID world, programmes like Modulr’s Accountancy Pathfinders will help keep you informed of the technical innovations that’ll shape the industry, and the skill-set required to take advantage of them. With access to exclusive events, the chance to participate in accountancy product trials, and networking opportunities with senior industry leaders, the Accountancy Pathfinders programme helps you not only prepare for but to shape the future of the accountancy profession.