As technology continues to transform the world in incredible ways, it is gradually reshaping every industry out there. It automates manual tasks, changes processes, and systems, and continually comes up with more efficient ways to get the job done. It is also changing how professionals across different industries learn new skills and stay updated on the latest developments and trends.
The accounting and finance industry is no exception; it is going through its share of changes. Computers and accounting software have made the lives of accountants significantly more comfortable, by eliminating the need to maintain extensive records and perform many of the repetitive, manual tasks. From being number-crunchers sitting at their desks all day, accountants become their employers’ most trusted advisors.
With the industry-transforming at a rapid pace, accounting leaders and professionals are now finding new and advanced solutions for acquiring knowledge and skills. As we enter into the year 2020, now is the perfect time to discuss how an accountant’s learning is likely to change over the next decade. Let’s have a look:
INCREASE IN MICRO-LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Accounting is an industry that is always experiencing changes. Due to differences in laws, regulations, and taxation rules or massive technological shifts, it is no surprise that most accounting graduates find that their qualifications need to be updated continuously to keep up with the changes. That is the reason why most professional accountancy bodies have set continuing education requirements for their members.
However, due to the diverse range of requirements currently faced by accountants, we can expect an increase in shorter-term, micro-learning opportunities in the future. It will allow accountants to quickly develop skills in their chosen area of interest without having to commit to long-term, macro-learning programs.
DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS
For accountants, learning is a life-long mission. However, for professionals who are already juggling their careers, this can be challenging to achieve. The education sector is beginning to realize this and increasing the number of online degree programs to cater to the needs of working professionals.
From short courses and certifications in accounting to bachelor’s and MACC online, accountants can find an online program for any qualification that they wish to pursue. With distance learning, students can study at their own pace and schedule, whether this means studying during their lunch break at work, on the commute back home, or from their couch.
THE NEED TO DEVELOP DIVERSE SKILLS
As the accountant changes, the professionals in the industry need hybrid skills to advance in their careers and increase their earning potential. The competencies required for accountants to be successful today differ from what they were a few years ago.
Employers no longer need accountants who stay on the sidelines, handing over information to others for decision-making. Instead, accountants must now play the role of business partners who sit with the senior management to formulate strategies, and actively participate in decision-making.
However, for this to happen, accountants must develop some broad management skills in areas such as leadership, business ethics, social responsibility, and business process management in addition to their existing accounting skills. They also need to focus on their communication, interpersonal, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING
In the 21st century, every professional knows the importance of networking in developing a successful career, and accountants are no exception. Networking is an excellent way to stay updated on what is happening in the industry. Through interacting with other professionals in your field, accountants can find out the latest trends, best practices, and developments that are currently taking place. They can discover new, more efficient ways of fulfilling their duty as an accountant that they may not have considered before.
Not just that, networking is an excellent way to grow one’s opportunities. Your connections could lead you to land a new position, find more clients, or get in touch with a great mentor who will provide the guidance you need to advance in your career.
ONLINE TRAINING RESOURCES
Anyone who wishes to polish their accounting skills and knowledge can find a massive range of resources online. On YouTube alone, you can find various series of highly-informative, short accounting training videos put together in the form of rounds so that anyone who wishes to gain some necessary accounting skills can easily do so.
One of the best examples of this is the videos from Executive Finance. This channel has a large number of videos on different topics relevant to an accounting professional such as risk assessments, internal controls, liquidity, and dealing with fraud, to name a few. Each video is short (i.e., up to 15 minutes long in most cases), providing an easy way for an accountant to gain necessary training on some of the most common areas they need to tackle as part of their work.
THE BOTTOM LINE
2020 doesn’t just mark the beginning of a new year. It is the start of another decade, and financial experts expect the industry to evolve significantly over the next couple of years. Accountants are no longer expected to hoard tons of documents and fuss over data entry. Instead, they have become strategic advisors, guiding businesses through major financial decisions.
But to fulfill this new role, accountants must update their skills and knowledge. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways for them to do this. From distance learning and online courses to build secure connections with industry peers through networking, the modern-day accountant has a bundle of opportunities to increase their knowledge and skills.