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Challenges and opportunities for SME accountants

Article provided by Sage

According to an SMP Small & Medium Practices Survey, led by the International Federation of Accountants Global, certified public accountants (CPAs) all over the world experience the same opportunities and challenges. These include attracting new clients and staff, remaining up to date with the latest regulations and standards, increasing pressure to lower fees, and retaining current staff.

With technology growing rapidly, they are also pressured to use the latest hardware and software and to move to the cloud.

These are the four most common challenges facing SME accountant:

  • Talent – The hunt for talent is fiercer than ever, complicated by the fact that workforces in general feel overwhelmed and unengaged at work.
  • Technology – Despite the many benefits technology gives SME accountants – like increased productivity, process transformation, and automation – many accountants report feeling pressure to keep up with technology found both inside and outside their customers’ businesses. The fact that cloud accounting is necessary to move to the next level makes it a daunting change of pace.
  • Time – As in many industries, time poverty is the most common challenge experienced by accountants. There is simply more that needs to be done than there is time to do it. This prevents CPAs from being proactive and involved with their clients; rather, they’re sinking deeper into the daily grind.
  • Transformation – There is the possibility of tremendous growth thanks to new technology and new skills available to CPAs, which can be seen in the prevalence of consulting and advisory services. This can also feel daunting, but the key is to embrace the change rather than fight it.

How to stay ahead of the pack

Thanks to the growth of technology and globalisation, it’s best to embrace the drastic changes that are already underway, and to lean into the ones we know are coming. Here’s how to become an ‘anticipatory accountant’ and stay ahead of the pack:

  • Don’t wait to change. Rather, spearhead transformation before you have no other option. This is the mark of an exceptional leader.
  • Get with the times. Technology is the biggest driver of transformation. To be as efficient and effective as possible, harness the new.
  • Upskill yourself and your team. While most of us know that technical skills need to be developed, often other necessary upskilling opportunities are overlooked. Emphasis should be put on training your team to become future-focused. Anticipation is a skill, even though it’s not often regarded as one.
  • Guard your values. Fast-moving change can be unsettling. Make sure your team feels secure by highlighting which elements of the business won’t change.
  • Make the most of this wild ride. After all, wouldn’t you rather be the disruptor than the disrupted?

Sage is a proud Partner of the NSBC.