When we think about a ‘traditional’ accountant, certain personality characteristics come to mind. There is no question that in the past, accountants have been characterized in certain ways. I think this has been reinforced by the way accountants in particular have reacted to the Xero phenomenon, versus the other participant groups attending #XeroCon – the bookkeepers and the cloud integrators.
Lets start by looking at some statistics (thanks to the Karbon 2016 Accounting Trends report for this information)
These statistics go a long way to explain the dynamic of a room full of accountants, versus a room full of bookkeepers at a typical XeroCon event. I’ve found the mood very serious at accountant events, and the level of enthusiasm for cloud much more restrained than that of other participant types.
What’s an extroverted accountant? One that looks at your shoes when he is talking instead of his own!
One of the strong lessons we took away from XeroCon is that social media is the way forward when it comes to targeting Gen Y and X clients. We all go straight to Google or Facebook when seeking a new service provider. A third of your clients are more comfortable with FaceBook than a telephone. Social media forces you as a business to become a content expert and deploy tactics to steer potential clients to your business by promoting your business.
In this networked and social media age, this concept must be very confronting to a personality type that was attracted to the profession to focus on numbers, not necessarily self promotion tactics and networking with people.
What do you call an accountant who works through lunch, takes 2 days holiday each year and leaves every night at 10pm? Work Shy.
One of the big lessons learned at #XeroCon is work on your business, not in it. And there are many accountants out there that are doing a great job of this! But most, sadly, live and die in their businesses, and create very little goodwill as a result.
It must be very difficult for a traditional accountant to accept that their true value in the business is to create a business where they have no role in it any longer. Computers are doing most of the work for us now these days, and the shrewd accountants in this cloud world are capitalizing on this by implementing new processes and procedures to manage client’s data.
What do you call an accountant without a spreadsheet? Lost.
Many of us were attracted to the accounting profession through good old double entry accounting. Debits equal credits. And in the past, there was a good amount of work involved for many clients through repetitive, time trusted techniques.
The deployment of Artificial Intelligence is turning the accounting profession on its head. Most of the traditional ‘doing’ is, or will be performed by computers. Accountants will need to re-define themselves as technology enablers, data managers, cloud integrators, and driving facing forward with real time data as the fuel in the engine. This would be very confronting to many in our profession, who feel most comfortable in front of a trial balance and a spreadsheet.
So in summary, it must be a very scary, confronting time for an ‘traditional’ accountant in Australia. We get approached frequently from clients who have heard of these amazing cloud products that are not supported by their current accountant.