Change has always been a constant in the accounting industry. But the rise of the cloud, increasing client demands and technology advancements have sped this rate of change from a steady trickle to a torrent.
Now, everything in accounting is different—the way you work, what your clients expect, the systems you use. The question is: have you and your firm changed as well?
From meeting thousands of accountants across the globe, I have made the unfortunate observation that most firms and the accountants working in them simply have not evolved. There is little awareness of what is changing and how quickly.
Traditional revenue streams that will dry up soon are being relied on too much. And even though everyone talks (or has heard of) the cloud, not everyone has sat down and mapped out the impact that this is having—not only on the systems they use, but on the way they work.
But probably the biggest gap I've found, especially after long conversations with a number of thought leaders (those accountants pushing the industry forward and driving change), is the lack of expertise in critical areas such as advisory, sales, marketing, leadership and innovation. It seems the industry as a whole lacks key sources of quality education.
You went to college and learned the technical aspects of accounting, and you go to courses to advance in technical skills, but where is all the business-savvy, entrepreneurial and leadership content that will help you advance your professional careers and make a dent in the way your firm runs? This is, in our opinion, the biggest gap in the accounting industry.
In saying this, I'm astounded by the will to learn that accounting professionals show. And while there is plenty of content pointing out the changes in the industry, there is little that gives you the necessary guidance on what to do.
Few resources outline the specific steps you should take to move your practice forward, and there is little shared by other accountants and their experience. Anything that is relevant and useful is scattered across countless blogs, newsletters, websites and books—finding the quality amongst the rubbish turns into a full-time job in itself.
To really make a dent in this profession, you don’t just need the theory, you need the practical application—real-world examples from other accountants who have lived, breathed and succeeded in making the leap with their own firm.
You need ongoing guidance to develop vital entrepreneurial skills across strategy, innovation, process excellence and practice growth. And you can't get this with a mere description of the meal, but only with a complete, step-by-step recipe of how to prepare it yourself. There is nowhere you can find this now.
You need a single place where you can learn this theoretical and practical curriculum in a structured, coached, and personalized fashion. Mentors who can help you every step of the way to launch your career to the next level and achieve great things in a whole new age of accounting.
In coming years, this industry is going to see some big winners and some even bigger losers. To be a winner, you need to capitalize on the changes happening and turn what many see as challenges, into opportunities. This requires empowering your professional growth with a view towards the future—rethinking what you know, and becoming an expert in the new areas that are critical in this industry.
But you shouldn't have to do this alone. The accounting industry needs to show you what to do.
Co-Founder & Chief Partnerships Officer, Karbon
Ian is passionate about helping businesses be as successful as possible in order to positively impact the small businesses they serve. With 25+ years' experience in technology & process improvement and 15+ years of leadership experience in the accounting industry at Karbon, Xero, and Intuit, Ian is a recognized expert, innovator, and teacher.