David Bergstein's Accounting Profession Predictions for 2018
It seems (in my own mind) that I am a year ahead of all the others, so I won’t make a lot of predictions and let everyone else catch up. My predictions for 2017 and prior can be found here.
In the prior two years, I have predicted that automation, workflow and artificial intelligence would become big in changing the way accountants work, and this will continue to be a trend. Data Analytics (Big Data) continues to increase in demand, as the nature of most accounting work goes from compliance to advisory and consulting.
Automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will continue to evolve and eliminate data entry tasks. Please check out the new QuickBooks® Assistant (chatbot) in QuickBooks Labs to get real-time answers to your questions. Leveraging machine learning and data-driven insights is the future. QuickBooks is becoming predictive and proactive as a result.
The top trends in accounting will continue to change as we move forward on a constant basis, and most will revolve around technology that is ever-changing, as depicted in the image below:
In 2018, there will be new technologies or tools created as accountants move forward, all with the purpose of automating what we used to do manually, then delivering us the results.
Blockchain is one of the new tools that, according to Wikipedia, takes advantage of technology and creates “a decentralized, distributed and public ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively.” This means that information will be secure and reduces the opportunity for someone to alter it. It will change the way we audit. Every transaction that occurs using Blockchain is encrypted and all the participants to the transactions are identified by a string of characters and become part of the block (thus a Blockchain). Once the string of transactions is completed, it is transmitted to all the parties who participated in the group (aka chain). If someone tries to change or alter the information, everyone will be able to identify who and when.
These changes are helping refocus what an accountant does in a very positive way. He or she can now focus on the most important areas of concern, which are analyzing the information and making recommendations to their clients and/or companies for whom they work for to be more profitable liquid and solvent.
This leads to my number one prediction for the year: we will see a rise in the number of professional service firms being created.
This means there will be a blur in the landscape of the CPA firm, the accounting firm, the consulting firm and the bookkeeping firm. Firms that advertise and market their expertise in advising clients will grow, and the traditional firm that does the compliance work of preparing tax returns and financial statements will diminish. The opportunities in the accounting space will be in the areas of advising and providing knowledge in real time as the gig economy explodes. Everyone will want a trusted advisor and will be looking at the credentials of whom they choose.
It’s my opinion that CPAs – if they want to stand out – need to market the certificate and the value it brings.