As technology continues to pervade our day-to-day lives, so too has it shaped and reformed certain professions. This could be as obvious as Uber's affect on black cab drivers, or as subtle as the gradual extinction of the fax machine.
Technology has undoubtedly impacted accountancy.
From the way in which the industry communicates with clients and HMRC through to advising on the technology that clients implement, it is changing the profession almost beyond recognition. It is this change that has led to a number of recent articles on the need for accountants to continually broaden their skill-set.
Becoming a professional chameleon, as I've mentioned before, is now a necessity.
However, while the majority of accountants have adopted sophisticated reporting, payroll and accounting admin technology, they are focused on the automation and efficiency of their own roles.
With our close relationships with the accountancy community, we're seeing that the very best accountants are now going one better. They're moving away from the self preservation tech society.
Rather than simply easing their professional burden, leading accountants are using technology to go beyond their core proficiency and provide value-added services to their clients.
"Technology is shaping the future of the profession"
Previously technology had simply increased efficiency and decreased the margin of error. Now, however, rather than just creating more time in the day to concentrate on value-add services, technology is also helping to actually deliver these new service areas.
For example, accountants are taking on the challenge of SME finance and using online funding comparison services to offer advice and funding matches for clients.
Not only do online marketplaces make it easier to find finance, they also allow accountants to give more thorough counsel on a full range of choices, from indepencent to alternative sources.
Suddenly a business, that would have otherwise just gone to their bank, is now turning to their accountant for advice on suitable peer-to-peer lending platforms.
Another great example of this shift is the use of collaborative software. As accountants become more like an 'acting CFO' for a SME, so too must they become more integrated into the business.
"Changes are being made in real time"
The use of collaborative software allows accountants, and SME owners, joint access to the likes of balance sheets and sales pipelines, for example. Not only does this allow changes to be made in real time, it also increases transparency for both parties.
Once again, while accountants may be au fait with this kind of software for work within their practice, it is not currently commonplace to do so with clients.
The image of the accountant as simply a number cruncher has become antiquated and passé. Accountants that are embracing the change are seen by their SME clients as fully fledged members of the strategic team.
Being technologically literate is no longer a 'nice to have' for internal benefit, it's an expectation from clients too. Live up to it. Embrace technology for what it is - progress.