As firms ramp up to meet the demands of a shifting economy, finance professionals will need to rethink their post-pandemic accounting skills and how they can provide value-added services to their clients. The truth is, the changing landscape has many accountants looking for opportunities for professional development that move them away from being just number-crunchers and more towards working as decision-makers.
Below, we’ll explore what the new normal looks like for CPA and accounting firms as well as what post-pandemic accounting skills you’ll need to bring to the table to boost your business’s bottom line.
Entering the New Normal With The Necessary Accounting Skills
Accountants are no strangers to change. Since the onset of the pandemic, the world’s workforce has been in a transition period, teetering between pre-Covid days and the post-pandemic era. But how do we embrace the ‘new normal’ and push onward in an age dominated by political, economical, regulatory and technological forces? In order to stay competitive in today’s market, accounting firms will need to remain steadfast in their focus towards forward-looking outlooks.
As a result of the pandemic, several new trends have emerged that will impact the profession:
The push to remain completely remote and flexible. Between eliminating commute times and allotting more time for personal priorities, remote work is providing the work-life balance that employees crave.
The move from traditional services to advisory services. A decade ago, it was customary to offer ‘cookie-cutter’ services as that’s what your clients expected. But now? Client needs are changing, and firms need to adapt to a customized approach.
The rise of automation. In a field with a reputation for being less tech savvy than other industries, leveraging technology is the key to unlocking a client-first strategy. Moreover, public accountants who recognize the impact that technology has on their field are more likely to expand their skill set and advance their careers.
Suggested Read: Accounting Market View: The Top 6 Trends to Watch
The Post-Pandemic Skills You’ll Need
If you asked an accountant years ago what skills they needed to stay relevant in their industry, you would probably hear:
Attention to detail
And if you asked that same question today, you would probably receive varying responses (and some that may come as a surprise to the traditional public accountant).
Here are five skills that accounting firms and CPAs need to focus on in order to move into the post-pandemic era.
Adaptability - Learning Accounting Skills for the Post-Pandemic World
At the root of every successful company is a team willing to pivot. Throughout the pandemic – and even now – firms have had to quickly change tactics and protocols at a moment’s notice. Leaders had to swiftly decide if their employees would remain on-site or switch to remote.
The pandemic accelerated the need for digital adoption. And with so much reliance on technology to cope with the evolving climate, being tech proficient has become the top skill for accounting professionals.
Bernard Marr, a futurist, strategic business & technology advisor to governments and author of Future Value Drivers and From Data to Decisions, said it best: “One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a post-coronavirus-world is to acquire technology skills. The COVID-19 pandemic is fast-tracking digital transformations in companies as they are trying to become more resilient to future outbreaks and disruptions.”
As clients look for firms that add value, those that possess the ability to communicate effectively across the board will take center stage. In an industry saturated by information, it’s easy to get caught up in data. But what good is data if it lacks insight? Accounting firms must be able to cultivate the ability to translate that information to clients and key stakeholders.
It’s one thing to have industry knowledge and expertise, but you need to be able to showcase it your clients. The ability to provide counsel to clients requires firms to transcend traditional number crunching and instead look for opportunities to solve their pain points. You should have knowledge of their company and sector. For example, if you’re taking on a client in the private equity industry, you should be aware of the impact of the current market conditions on their allocations as well as any government regulations.
Don’t lose sight of your customers. Too often, firms spend a majority of their time hyping up what they can do for their clients instead of actually listening. A decade ago, clients would expect their CPA firm to provide transactional services. Services like bookkeeping, tax planning, auditing and more. But now? They’re needing a one-stop shop for services. Services like HR, operations and sales. The role of a CPA firm is shifting to serving as an around-the-clock advisor.
Sarah Johnson Dobek, founder and president of Inovatus Consulting, touches on this point: “Many accounting firms don’t really know what their clients want and need. They don’t know what’s on their minds, what their priorities are or what’s challenging them.”
How to Keep Up With New Skills? Outsource Low-Impact Tasks
The pandemic highlighted the need for new skills in order to survive in today’s global economy. And as we continue to reconstruct the public accounting industry, it’s imperative for firms to reassess their post-pandemic accounting skills.
If you’re a CPA firm looking to grow in a world fueled by uncertainty and a revolving door of change, you’re not alone. Here at Personiv, we’ve helped firms – large to small – navigate this new environment (while finding top talent that fits the bill) and we can help you too. Get in touch with one of our experts and learn how virtual accounting can help you add these much-needed skills to your team.
Interested in learning how to develop a CPA firm growth strategy this year? Check out our latest article, Why Virtual Accounting is the Growth Engine for CPA Firms, to discover how.