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Aussie Accountants Brace For Industry Disruption

Australia’s Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is urging its members to “future-proof” their businesses as the industry heads toward disruption.

Reports in Money Management on Thursday (March 15) said the IPA’s Vice President, Sam Zervides, issued a statement encouraging accountants to collaborate and explore value-added services, particularly for small businesses (SMBs).

According to Zervides, research suggests SMBs consider their accountants to be “trusted advisors” but are unimpressed with accountants’ ability to take on a leadership role and engage with their small business clients. Further, industry trends have led the traditional accountant model to become “obsolete,” reports said, meaning accountants have to embrace the more strategic role of advisor.

“By taking action now, accounting firms can propel their business to the next level and deliver more value — especially to SME [small and medium-sized enterprise] clients,” Zervides stated. “However, in order for accountants to remain relevant in an intensely competitive market, a new paradigm and mindset is needed.”

Zervides recommends accountants embrace collaboration with other professionals to explore and promote value-added services.

“The integration of a financial planning offering should be a priority as it will provide the accountant with a stronger grasp of their clients’ financial situations and enable them to provide a greater depth of financial/insurance/superannuation strategies, cash flow management, business succession and retirement options,” the VP said. “The tide is definitely rising, and those accountants that take action and future-proof their businesses now will be [the] winning practices of tomorrow.”

Australia has one of the most robust small business accounting markets in the world, with industry players like Xero (based in New Zealand) and MYOB leading FinTechs in the market.

Research released last year by BlackLine found that of 150 Australian chief financial officers and other financial executives surveyed, most expect artificial intelligence (AI) to have a profound impact on their corporate accounting strategies. Sixty percent said AI could impact accounts payable and accounts receivable, while nearly half (49 percent) expect AI to enable automated reconciliation.

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