(c) Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Contact ICAS for permission to reproduce this article., Information Technology

Embracing technology to become better CAs

Gareth Lewis CA, CEO and co-founder of Delio, and the winner of the Top 100 Young CAs Technology category, talks about the changing profession and why CAs should embrace technology.

There are multiple technological developments confronting the accountancy profession, business and the wider public.

There has been a big shift across the accountancy profession in terms of embracing technology. For me, the evolution of technology within the profession is two-fold. On the one hand, you have the day-to-day side of it, while on the other hand we have technologies emerging that will transform the future of our profession. We are seeing this shift at Delio, where we have encountered a number of financial institutions that were using highly manual processes to run daily operations. Through our platform, we’ve been able to digitise these processes.

The profession is currently in a transition period where businesses will be moving towards a range of systems to help us run our daily operations – whether that’s to reduce risk, increase operational efficiency or broaden new revenue streams. This transition is easy for companies to embrace, and I see it happening across several industries.

At the same time, we’re seeing significant emerging technologies around machine learning and data science. CAs regularly encounter masses of data in various means and ways. As that data currently tends to sit in siloes, I envisage that we’ll see more developments and innovations that will be available for adoption by CAs, who can then use them to drive businesses forward and solve whatever challenges that exist.

Moving towards a 360-advisory role

As more manual processes, and administrative tasks, become automated by artificial intelligence, CAs will have to adapt how they work. CAs need to keep up with what clients want, the changes within the market and take time to learn more about the technologies that are there. CAs should speak with industry leaders within technology and learn from them how to adopt their technologies into the work of a CA.

I see CAs moving towards a 360-advisory role in the future, where they will be able to use their skills to analyse data, capture it, display it effectively and then unlock new insights.

Younger CAs have, by default, grown up in a world surrounded by technology and innovation and we are heavily reliant on it in several areas of our lives. I think we, as young CAs, need to look at where technology has helped, and solved challenges, in the wider aspects of life, and then consider how that can be applied to the CA role. We must think about how we can use technology to shape our work and meet our clients’ needs better, offering them more in the process.

I believe it is our responsibility as CAs to be a driver for change and evolution in our organisations and take ownership of emerging issues that are becoming increasingly more important to businesses.

Embracing change

One of the challenges we face when it comes to technology, is that businesses often move forward too quickly without having a good core foundation, base and infrastructure in place in which to work from. There’s always a risk that things can go too far which can affect a range of industries, as we saw historically with the dot.com crash.

While I think it is important not to jump on any technology trend, or adopt a “technology for technology’s sake” mentality, we shouldn’t shy away from the rate of change either. We should embrace it. Technology can help us work in real-time. It helps ensure accuracy, consistency and in general reduces human error. And it can help us become better CAs and offer more to our clients.

This article was originally published by ICAS.