Accountants encourage tech investment despite pandemic uncertainty

By Emma Olsson | 30 September 2020

Accountants must invest in long term technological change, according to a panel of accountants and tech providers during an Accountancy Age webinar yesterday.

“We’re in a situation now where if you can get the streamlining right and the process and the technology right, it’s cost effective to do so,” said Simon Michaels, chief executive officer, HW Fisher Business Solutions.

“Technology’s not like it used to be and people don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a brand new system – they get a very efficient, cost effective system that saves hours and hours of time. And we’re just encouraging people to do that, and cloud-based accounting has enabled us to do that over the last five to 10 years.”

In May, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) announced that firms with cloud-based systems had a “significant head start” to remote working, but that the uptake of cloud services in accounting has been relatively slow.

Despite advantages of cloud-based tech in accounting, uncertainty lingers for firms still impacted by the pandemic.

“Part of the challenge can be if you’re worried if you start spending and introducing more change at a time when there’s so much uncertainty, it can worry the team and create even more uncertainty when everyone’s trying to get used to working more agile or working from home,” said Paul Lodder, cloud accounting partner, Sagars during the webinar.

Mark McNee, enterprise business development manager, Receipt Bank, agreed.

“It’s not just for time-saving from the end user perspective, it’s time-saving and also helping you target those small businesses,” he said during the webinar.

As more firms begin to improve their tech processes, the function of accountants could change, panellists argued.

“The days of the regular accountant coming and doing some tax work, some audit work and some accounting work is still needed, but there’s this new bolt on which is the technology piece and helping clients through that and helping them understand what they need to get out of the systems,” said Michaels.

“That’s where our position has changed – we’ve moved from this purely finance role to finance and technology, and that’s just accelerating.

According the Lodder, tech advisory has become a core area for his firm, and one that is generating income.

“I think as the years go on, we’ll see a real shift and potentially a drop off in the fees generated from compliance to a definite increase in fees generated from more advisory work,” he said.

Watch the full webinar here.


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