As part of ADP's annual predictions and accounting industry highlights, Paul Epperlein, Vice President Of Channel Sales at ADP, recently pulled together his top five accounting trends to watch in the new year.
These trends are primed to make the greatest impact in the accounting ecosystem in 2020:
- Consolidation of tech
Living in the digital age, technology has naturally become an embedded part of daily life; this is particularly true for accountants. In fact, it's not unusual for any given accounting firm to work across 10 or more different technology systems. Expect that to change next year, as more and more firms reduce the number of systems they interface with. It's all about quality vs. quantity—using fewer of the right tools to make a business more efficient, and to empower better client service and support.
- Slow embrace of artificial intelligence (AI)
The penetration of AI in the workforce is a polarizing topic, categorized by two primary schools of thought: conspiracy theorists and alarmists think AI will steal jobs from hard-working people; optimists believe it will create new jobs and new opportunities for growth. The accounting industry sits somewhere in the middle. While there is some hesitancy to put AI into practice here, we anticipate that firms in the future will embrace AI as a way to eliminate monotonous tasks (e.g., audits). In turn, accountants will be free to put more effort behind advising and consulting.
- Diversifying talent to grow & evolve
Finding talent for accounting firms isn't as straightforward as it used to be. It's not just about recruiting from the top accounting schools anymore, especially because the number of graduates with an accounting degree is shrinking. Accordingly, firms are future-proofing their businesses by moving away from tax and audit candidates only; increasingly, they are adding top-notch security specialists, COOs, HR professionals, and web designers, to name a few. This creates a diverse workforce yes, but it also opens the door for enhanced organizational mobility, which plays an important role in employee engagement and retention.
- Optimizing teams in the name of compliance
With thousands of proposed tax regulations to contend with, firms are up against an immense challenge to navigate the nuances of compliance. In many cases, they have to achieve compliance with a smaller team. To accommodate this in 2020, accounting firms will operationalize and optimize their teams. And in some cases, they may even outsource consultants to fill any holes.
- Growth of outsourced accounts
Firms want to do more and be more involved in their clients' business, not just for tax and audit, but payroll, general ledger, and HR, even if it means tapping outside reinforcements, like a PEO. Adjacent to this, accounting firms continue to favor a monthly retainer structure, vs. hourly billings. In concert, these changes allow accountants to streamline their business – passing time and cost-savings on to their clients.
The accounting firms of 2020 won't just be a one-trick pony anymore. Rather, through purposeful innovation and tactful restructuring, they'll evolve to become interdisciplinary – delivering even more value and varied expertise to their clients.