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March 18, 2020

ACCA: Accountancy must leave spreadsheet comfort zone

By Joe Pickard

Only 20% of accountants believe they have expertise in emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, according to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ (ACCA) The Digital Accountant report.

The report’s survey showed that there is still a higher level of ability in the more traditional areas of using spreadsheets, with 81% of respondents indicating an expert ability level. When asked about their understanding of enterprise resource planning solutions, 72% of respondents identified as experts.

Author of the report and ACCA senior subject manager business management- Clive Webb believes greater ambition with technology can help accountants be future-ready for digital challenges.

Webb said: “Being able to predict where market disruption is coming from is imperative, there is a fundamental need for accounting and finance professions to have a robust and comprehensive digital skill set. This must then be applied to help accountants and the businesses they support to address the issues of the day – namely ones such as the current global Coronavirus pandemic we are combatting.

“Making best use of technology in times such as these is key. The report recognises a gradual comfort zone has developed in accountancy in relation to technology. It is important to recognise the days of spreadsheets being the new technology for accountants are over.

“The profession is comfortable with older digital technology such as spreadsheets, enterprise resource planning. Digital transformation is one of the key conversations across businesses at present. The amounts invested by organisations are significant; the benefits substantial.”

He continued: “Accountants must now have the capability to respond to digital challenges presented by the profession. This can be achieved by showing purpose, ambition and understanding technology such as blockchain and the use of coding.

“Speaking the language of technology and appreciating how it can drive business models can benefit accountants significantly. This could be from spending just three minutes-a-day invested in continuous learning and identifying future opportunities on how to improve their understanding of technology.”

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