A total of 83% of accountants believe that understanding technology is now as important to their job as understanding accountancy, according to research by online accounting software provider Xero.

In a recently published report, Xero said traditionally the role of accountants for small and medium-sized businesses has been focused on compliance and number crunching.

However, Xero explained that due to the advent of automation and online technologies, accountants’ role is changing so they are increasingly able to perform the role of business advisors.

The report said just one in five (21%) believe that a broader service offering is the biggest benefit of using technology in finance.

While this indicates that there is a skills gap which needs filling, 81% of accountants are currently undergoing training in order to become more technologically proficient.

The report said: “They understand the importance of these changes impacting their jobs, with 70% believing that having knowledge of technology and automation in the financial sector within the next five years will be crucial to future success in the accounting industry.”

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By GlobalData

Accountants of tomorrow

For the accountants of tomorrow, the report said almost half of accountants (48%) recommend that accountancy graduates focus on business management in order to prepare for a career beyond 2025.

It added that more than a quarter would recommend studying management consultancy (27%) and computer science (25%)

The report added that business owners still overwhelmingly view accountants as their most trusted adviser.

At 30%, that’s 15 times higher than management consultants (2%), and highlights a huge opportunity for accountants to take on a more advisory role, said Xero.

The report noted that trust (55%) and attention to detail (47%) were selected as being the two most important factors when choosing a business advisor.

“This highlights that while the demand for different service lines is likely to change over time, accountants are likely to continue to be highly regarded as business partners,” said the Xero report.