Moving into 2017, industry experts anticipate many changes in accounting. The rapid adoption of accounting technologies and an aging workforce will bring new challenges and opportunities to accounting firms. Here are a few areas likely to be impacted and how those changes might affect your firm.
Modern technology makes it possible to provide real-time data analysis, opening the door to continuous audit programs, which provide continual control and risk assessments along with immediate notice regarding errors and other anomalies. These programs streamline the audit process and give clients more information than traditional audit methods. Because data analysis software is expensive and involves a learning curve, expect larger accounting firms to have the edge in implementation. Midsize firms can look to less expensive programs and software-as-a-service platforms to move into this market.
A shift in the relationship between accountants and yearly tax compliance will be one of the biggest changes in accounting moving into the future. Accounting technologies and real-time data sharing make it easier for businesses to handle their tax responsibilities without additional professional help. Tomorrow's accounting firms need to explore ways to add value to their tax services. Although general tax consulting and advisory programs are one option, consider expanding your knowledge base. Doing so opens opportunities for niche services, such as international taxes or tax consulting directed to a particular type of business.
With these changes in accounting, expect more oversight by regulatory boards. Both audits and new consulting programs are likely to see more careful reviews by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement arm. This might cause smaller firms to discontinue audit services and look for other areas for growth opportunities. Companies will also create and increase peer review systems to improve the quality of their services.
As baby boomers get ready to retire, accounting firms need to improve their work environment to attract new workers to the field. In 2017, more firms will offer casual work spaces, flex time and unlimited paid time off to draw in the best young accountants to replenish their personnel. Like many changes in accounting, this change may affect smaller firms with less resources negatively. To stay competitive, small and midsize firms need to offer the most sought-after benefits and market their job opportunities to their target audience. This includes maintaining a positive Web presence.
Look to see changes in accounting when it comes to how services are sold to clients. More companies will offer comprehensive service packages designed to increase revenue and meet the specific needs of their clients. Expect to see an increase in the availability of tiered packages at different price points for diverse groups of consumers.
Accounting experts interviewed by Accounting Today predict that many of the changes in accounting in 2017 will come faster than expected. To stay competitive, it's important for firms to remain open to change and be flexible in their operations. Embrace technology, update your website, and get ready for a younger workforce to prepare for the new year.
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