In this guest article, the CFO and Co-Founder of Arthur Online, Rochelle Trup, shares how technological advancements have streamlined workloads for accountants.

The rise of the digital age has streamlined workloads across the whole professional world. Accountants have benefited from this considerably due to the nature of the industry being centred around efficiency and accuracy. Accounting lends itself to technological improvements and must embrace the latest technology in order to improve performance and increase competitiveness. The implementation of new technologies, such as cloud-based accounting software and fast communication platforms, have provided new ways to interact with clients, helping to streamline our processes. However, this does not make accountants’ work less worthwhile, rather it saves time on the things which would otherwise have needed to be done manually. The focus is shifting heavily towards automation which has the potential to revolutionise the industry. Technological advancements can make the processes faster for accountants in addition to being more cost-effective and reducing the margin for error.

Cloud-Based accounting software and mobile-based accounting platforms have revolutionised the industry. They allow accountants to access data simultaneously, improving productivity and flexibility. Cloud-based platforms also have unlimited storage space, which means that they grow alongside businesses and don’t limit file size. Additionally, having data on one comprehensive system ensures better security, with all files being automatically backed up on the cloud. Improved access for accountants has improved the way they can work, making it easier to react to the demands of clients quickly. Furthermore, having financial information on demand and data being shown in real-time improves decision making and the efficiency of work.

Due to living in a ‘mobile age’, mobile accounting has also vastly improved. Many new apps allow the user to create ad send invoices, capture receipts straight from the camera on their phone, file expense claims and gather online signatures with just a couple of swipes and taps. Being able to access data on mobile devices has greatly improved efficiency as accountants can access the system on the move. It’s now easier to build better relationships with clients as smartphones enable access to all communication platforms, improving client relations.

Some of the most recent technological advancements, in 2018, caused widespread business restructuring with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation. This transformed the way that accountants deal with client’s data. Processes must now be built in consideration of the EU principles, including the implementation of better safeguards and improved security. Similarly, 2019 marked the start of digitalised tax processes as the government’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ action will streamline the tax return process for accountants. This follows the increasing trend of automation in the industry, with digitised VAT returns and a bespoke HRMC cloud-based software. All of this will reduce administration costs and boost efficiency. Spending less time on these repetitive tasks has helped accountants to focus on innovating our processes.

Perhaps one of the most exciting future advancements is the increasing focus on research into artificial intelligence. Advanced systems are constantly learning and evolving in order to improve the speed and accuracy of accounting tasks. These advancements could make all administration a thing of the past, with reports and spreadsheets populating themselves to chatbots and automatic support systems, helping accountants to focus on client relations and better management strategies. Automating repetitive tasks like bookkeeping enables accountants to save time and focus on learning new skills, diversifying their roles. Artificial intelligence could also help eliminate a lot of human error. Often even the slightest error can damage professional reputation or result in penalties. Artificial Intelligence would not be limited by human ability and could perform tasks with 100% accuracy every time. It is necessary for the industry to support these developments and encourage research into these areas.

However, an accountant’s greatest asset is not just their skill with numbers, but their communication techniques and the ability to establish lasting relationships with clients. Ultimately, efficient processes, increased automation and even artificial intelligence don’t just streamline our workload but also allow focus on what matters the most, serving clients and growing their businesses. No matter what, the support and professional insight of an accountant is something that cannot be replaced easily and any measures which can help to improve efficiency should be celebrated.

Rochelle started her career in finance before moving on to investing in rental properties. As her portfolio grew, self-managing became increasingly difficult and time consuming. Together with her two co-founders, also property investors, Rochelle set about creating a cloud-based platform which would include everything they would need to easily and effectively manage their portfolios from anywhere in the world and efficiently liaise with tenants, contractors, property owners or letting agents. Since launching in 2015, Arthur has helped thousands of property managers handle their portfolios in the cheapest, most efficient way possible by using the full potential of new technology and cloud computing.