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Embracing the digital transformation in finance

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With automation taking over traditional accounting roles, finance professionals of the future must adapt to become strategic thinkers and advisers.

Instead of manually entering information into accounting software, accountants can now take a photograph or scan a page, and the software will automatically complete the relevant fields. This information can then be shared with internal stakeholders or clients using cloud accounting services.

These are just a few ways that technology has transformed the finance profession, streamlining processes and eliminating routine work. 

The greatest change in the accounting and finance profession has come from the rapid spread and evolution of digital technologies. Some prominent examples include the advances of artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain platforms, electronic payment systems and global urbanisation.

Increasing globalisation, cross-border business and the connectivity of world financial systems are also changing the way businesses are run. To consolidate support functions to optimise and streamline costs, more businesses are adopting a shared services centre or offshoring routine services to countries with lower costs.

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Changing roles of the accounting professional 

According to a report titled Future proof your finance capability by CPA Australia and EY, these changes will redefine the roles that accounting professionals play within the finance function.

Among the roles that may be affected in the near future are back-office accounting jobs such as accounting, reporting, bookkeeping and transaction processing. Labour-intensive tasks such as tax preparation, payroll, audits and banking are expected to be fully automated within the next few years. 

The report suggests that the roles that are gaining prominence include technology and data specialists, change managers, and storytellers beyond the numbers.

Accounting professionals who are familiar with the technology, data and analytics to interpret raw data can add value to their roles by becoming business partners and advisors — clearly communicating their in-depth insights to users outside the finance function for better decision-making. 

Finance professionals of the future  

While robots can gather lots of data easily, humans can leverage technology to expand their advisory roles and analyse the facts, figures and information gathered.

Instead of fearing a future overtaken by technology, accounting professionals must adapt to changes and equip themselves with new skill sets.  

Finance leaders identified the top three skills that accounting and finance professionals need in order to remain relevant in the next 10 years: 

  • Strategic thinking: This includes being aware of the changes happening to the business and their impact. Accounting professionals need to be forward-looking, be able to spot problems and ask the right questions to find the right solutions for their organisations.
  • Business partner and advisor: Increasingly being asked to be business partners and advisors to other functions in their organisations, accounting professionals need business acumen, leadership, communication and influencing, and analysis and advisory skills. 
  • Technological skills: Learning and understanding digital technologies such as data analytics and network security can help finance professionals add more value to the business. 

Invest in yourself

In view of the current evolution in the financial services sector, consider equipping yourself with the skills that can propel you into the future.

If you are looking to build an exciting career based on professional accounting skills that could take you across the globe in a diverse range of roles, the CPA Program is for you.

By covering domestic and global business issues, the CPA Program provides the expertise today to create the strategic business leaders of tomorrow. Besides providing a technical focus, the course also equips candidates with an understanding of the dynamic issues facing organisations in the global marketplace. 

With an internationally recognised CPA designation, you can connect and network with professionals from a range of leading accounting bodies all over the world
CPA Australia offers a CPA Program with flexible study options of distance learning or full-time study. Candidates can also opt for online or face-to-face tuition to complement the distance learning study option.

Find out what the CPA Program can do for your career. Register for an information session at www.cpaaustralia.com.au/become-a-cpa/information-sessions/singapore

This article is sponsored by CPA Australia.