The accountancy profession is going high-tech. The rise of digital technologies such as cloud computing and data analytics, wedded with new European regulations that are shaking up the audit process, are spurring an industry wide shift.
10/11/15 As accounting firms begin to embrace disruption led by tech challengers such as SAP, Salesforce, or Oracle, innovation is reshaping the auditing divisions that have traditionally been the backbone of professional services.
Accountants are striking deals with digital businesses, investing in tech-savvy start-ups, and are increasingly employing techniques more akin to the business models of Silicon Valley minnows than long-established bookkeepers.
Examples include KPMG’s partnership with Formula One automotive group McLaren to use predictive analytics in its audit and consulting work, and the joint venture PwC launched last year with Google, to combine the search giant’s tech platform with PwC’s corporate expertise.
Nick Frost, partner at KPMG in the UK, says that auditing is being re-engineered by technologies like cloud computing — which could have a “significant” impact on accounting — fuelled mostly by big data.
But, speaking to BusinessBecuase, he says that accountancy firms are under threat from technology companies like Google and Amazon: “This threat is real if we don’t take [a] lead in this area,” he says. “We are the best at accounting today, but not the best at data analytics.”
He says that accountants must be retrained to master high-tech auditing tools. “It is the mind-set first that needs to be retrained, to be risk-focused through data,” he says.
Demand for accountancy talent skilled in these areas remains robust. Sharon Spice, director of global student recruitment for ICAEW, one of the biggest accountancy bodies, says: “Top students are now taking offers of employment from more than one accountancy practice at a time.”