Tech Skills Crucial for Accounting Professionals Amid Economic Challenges

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A new Intuit QuickBooks survey reveals while the accounting industry has been significantly impacted by changing economic conditions, professionals in the field believe failing to keep up with technological advancements poses the greatest risk to the industry. This concern surpasses other major issues, such as higher interest rates, rising costs of goods, and widespread hiring challenges. These insights are detailed in the 2024 Intuit QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey, commissioned by Intuit Inc.

The survey, which polled 700 accountants in the U.S., highlights the crucial role technology plays in meeting increasing client expectations, addressing hiring shortages, and enhancing operational efficiency, all while maintaining a positive outlook on the industry’s future.

“The accounting profession has been experiencing a significant evolution at the intersection of technology and finance, presenting both challenges and opportunities for accountants to navigate as they strive to meet clients’ needs,” said Jeremy Sulzmann, Vice President, Intuit QuickBooks Partners Segment.

To address the risk of falling behind in technological advancements, many accountants are prioritizing the adoption of new innovations in their daily operations. This focus is reflected in their investment strategies, with respondents planning to invest an average of $24,000 in accounting and bookkeeping technologies over the next year. These investments are expected to pay off significantly in the long term, particularly during uncertain economic times. Indeed, 93% of respondents believe that accounting firms utilizing more technology are more likely to survive periods of high inflation and interest rates.

Technology adoption is also seen as a key solution to accounting skill shortages, particularly in attracting and retaining talent. Since 2023, hiring challenges have persisted, with 94% of respondents indicating difficulties in recruitment, an 8% increase from the previous year. This issue is particularly acute for early-career professionals, such as graduates and entry-level accountants. Nearly all respondents (98%) agree that alternative pathways to CPA licensure can be as effective, if not more so, than the traditional 150-hour pathway.

To attract and retain employees over the next year, nearly all respondents (99%) said their firms would prioritize the latest technologies to support day-to-day work. Furthermore, 95% agreed that a willingness to learn and adopt new technologies is just as important as traditional accounting skills.

The Impact of AI on the Accounting Industry

Staying ahead in technology through AI is increasingly popular among accounting professionals. The survey found that 98% of respondents used AI to assist clients in the past year, and 98% used AI for firm operations, with plans for expanded use.

”While AI is seen by some as a replacement for tasks managed by accounting professionals, it presents an opportunity for them to leverage the power of this tech to uplevel their services. Many accounting firms have recognized this shift and are implementing changes to take advantage of AI across their workflows. We believe the data shows the industry will continue to evolve and thrive as a result of this ability to embrace and use AI technology,” Sulzmann added.

Over the next 12 months, more than half of accountants plan to invest in AI (57%) and automation tools (54%), a steady increase from the previous year. However, many approach AI adoption with caution. Concerns include data privacy and security (31%), accuracy (21%), and implementation and maintenance costs (21%). Despite fears of job replacement due to AI, only 9% of respondents expressed this concern. To ensure careful use of AI, nearly all firms (99%) have formal ethics guidelines, and two-thirds (66%) include client disclosure in their AI use policies.

While new tech adoption is the top priority for accountants facing current economic conditions, the survey also shows how accountants are assessing other economic threats. In 2023, 82% of accountants anticipated business growth, but economic instability has since become a major concern for 21% of respondents. Higher interest rates and rising costs have led to reduced profitability for 63% of firms.

Clients of accounting firms are also feeling the financial strain, with nearly all respondents (99%) noting adverse effects from higher costs and interest rates. Additionally, 91% agree that while inflation has slowed, these factors still pose a threat to their clients’ growth over the next year.

Image: Envato




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