If you’re a mid-career or senior accounting professional, you’ve seen many changes over the years to the accounting profession. Some of you may even have begun your career when computerized accounting was in its infancy; you used ledgers and calculators to match debits and credits. The changes to the profession over the past two or three decades have been astonishing, and the rapid pace at which changes continue to occur necessitates that accountants demonstrate curiosity, flexibility, and adaptability.
There are many ways in which the accounting profession is changing, but we’ve identified the following three as having major impacts upon the majority of accountants. Which do you see as the biggest changes in your work?
The Importance of Disclosing Non-Financial Information
Accountants have always been thought of as the “numbers people” – the professionals on the team that provide accurate information and insights into the numbers behind the organization.
Now, however, the public is no longer content with disclosure alone. Framing the disclosure of financial information and providing plenty of information about what, how, and why funds were spent at a nonprofit organization is essential to building trust with donors and supporters.
Working alongside marketing professionals, accountants are no longer responsible solely for the financial health of the organization. Now they must become advocates for the organization’s mission and help shape and frame the overarching story behind the financial information disclosed to the public.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to be part of the current dialogue among business leaders. However, only 34 percent of business leaders identified in an Accenture report from 2020 are putting their organization’s efforts behind DE & I initiatives.
The sad truth is that although accountants perceive their profession as inclusive, minorities tend not to enter the accounting field at all.
According to the American Association of CPAs, African Americans and Hispanics make up only 4% of partners in accounting firms, yet represent 30% of the population. Caucasians hold 75% of the accounting positions and 90% of senior leadership positions in accounting firms. Howard University published a paper exploring why so few minorities enter the accounting profession. The sad truth is that both parents and educators tend to undervalue accounting as a career for their children, discouraging them from majoring in accounting in college.
The area of diversity, equity, and inclusion remains top of mind for most in America. Accountants should embrace this concept and strive to support diversity throughout their organizations.
One way in which accountants can lead the change in minority representation in the field is by working with their alma maters as mentors and speakers to incoming freshman. Those who are “undecided” majors may find that the accounting field holds just what they’ve been looking for in a career. Helping to mentor young people as they enter the early stages of their careers or encouraging minority high school students or college freshmen to choose accounting as their major is a great way to encourage diversity in the field.
The third major shift in the accounting profession is the use and some might say reliance upon new technology for accountants to do their jobs. Productivity software is ubiquitous in every office, and most nonprofits use some form of fund accounting software to support their accounting and financial records. Additionally, other types of technology and software, such as browser-based or cloud software, have enabled remote work, near-instant updates of the accounting system, and seamless communications with other departments.
Mastering new technology is among an accountant’s many job duties today and is likely to continue to be an important task. Among the three, this is one area that is well within an accountant’s control. Most new technology now comes with excellent training and an abundance of online resources to help everyone using the system get the most from it.
The Future of Accounting
While the core concepts of accounting are unlikely to change, the tools with which accountants perform their jobs continues to evolve and change. If you are looking for a partner you can count on to update your technology, contact Welter Consulting.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.