The world of accounting is changing at a remarkable rate. Where once we were asked to bury ourselves beneath heaps of admin and invoicing, new systems have emerged to take on the load. Just as the 90s saw the rise of Enterprise Resource Planning and the noughties and 10s welcomed “intelligent accounting”, the 20s will see even more.
However, as much as progress is intended to help us, it also forces us to adapt alongside its evolution or risk falling behind. This is why lifelong learners will always have an invaluable edge.
Adapt to thrive
As systems evolve, so too must our skill sets. And this is very much on the minds of professionals today.
According to the Pew Research Center, 87% of adults in the workforce acknowledge that it will be essential for them to get training and develop new job skills throughout their work life to keep up with changes in the workplace.
Non-complacency is critical, and today’s ideal worker is one who can adapt to tomorrow’s workplace. This is why, according to another Pew study, 73% of adults now consider themselves “lifelong learners”: Professionals who constantly upskill using whatever resources are available to them.
What are they learning?
Upskilling comes in many forms. It may take the shape of a course or qualification with a registered institution. It could be “work shadowing” a higher position in your company. It can even be as simple as picking up a book on a regular basis.
The joy of professional development is that it is entirely self-paced, self-assessed and, interestingly, simpler than it may sound. Technical skills are a must in the digital age, but interpersonal proficiency is hot on its trail. And it’s easy to practice (if only a little harder to master).
In fact, globally, we are now seeing the trend moving towards softer skills, with many employers viewing soft skills as being almost on par with actual qualifications.
Soft skills refer to qualities – as well as resiliencies – that augment your existing professional qualifications. Some examples include:
- Leadership training
- Critical thinking
- Effective communication
- Resilience training
- Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Where do accountants fit in?
Accountants in particular may initially feel some discomfort at the thought of having to prove proficiency in many of the soft skills. After all, we’re numbers people. It’s what we have been trained to do. Fortunately, this description is at best a misnomer and at worse a dated stereotype.
What we really are?
We work with numbers, yes, but we aren’t supposed to be calculators. Our real strength is in advisory services. What clients really want are our insights into a firm’s financial wellbeing – figures simply come with the territory.
Rather, technology is fast-tracking the accounting industry into a promising future wherein admin is becoming a thing of the past. It can be exciting then, to think about just how much easier it’s becoming to produce value-add services as regulatory work becomes simpler and more streamlined with each passing innovation.
But we still need to keep up with the change.
I’ve asked firms whether they are busier now or 10 years ago. They’ve all told me, “this is busier than we’ve ever been.” – Nick Sinclair, Founder, TOA Global
Turn the technological boom into a boon
Becoming a lifelong learner is key to staying competitive, considering the many industry advancements, both those of today and those still to come. It begins with your mindset.
Embrace dynamism and accept that there’s always something new to take on board. How you do this is up to you. You don’t have to continue your studies formally – there is a wealth of free information online or in your firm that can help kickstart a new learning chapter at your leisure. Instead, you can start by:
- Setting your goals and pursuing them zealously.
- Seeking learning opportunities everywhere.
- Reading or listening to podcasts regularly.
- Taking an interest in your co-workers’ jobs and the skills required to do them.
“Learning and development is fast becoming the number one reason candidates join organisations. An investment in your team’s learning increases growth and retention. It also attracts those who will make a positive impact on the organisation,” says Ab2 Institute of Accounting Executive General Manager, Sarah Stone.
Turn to training
Formal training can shift the odds exponentially in your favour.
At Ab2 Institute of Accounting, we’re committed to this idea of constant self-improvement. That’s why we have tailored a full suite of bespoke training programs that are 100% made for the accounting industry and are updated regularly to meet the changing needs of professionals.
Our courses are broad in scope but laser-focused on purpose and can be completed online, in your own time and to your specific needs. From recognised accounting qualifications to leadership training and personal success skills, we’re sure to have the right course to fill any professional blind spots.