2020 Conference: Seven Experts Reveal the Future of the Accounting Profession

Posted on November 07, 2019

2020 Conference: Seven Experts Reveal the Future of the Accounting Profession

Today’s accountants and practices are incredibly nervous about practically most things in the profession. From losing jobs to AI to keeping up with rapidly developing technologies like the cloud – there’s a looming sense of threat everywhere. Even though the advent of new technologies promise for a better future, the uncertainties of the current times makes it harder to believe.

In the spirit of ‘welcoming change’ at the 2020 conference, we’ve gone around the industry and asked experts and our fellow exhibitors to find ways to heal the schism between new and old accounting. With years of experience of evolving with technology, veteran accountants give us their piece of mind on how to prosper in this changing environment, get ready for the future and have a brighter outlook to all that profession has in store for us.

1. Emily Coltman, Chief Accountant, FreeAgent

I started working in practice 20 years ago at a desk that did not even have an internet-enabled computer, where preparing trial balances with a pencil and an A3 analysis pad from a “bag of receipts” was common practice.

Now that accountants have tools such as online accounting software that enable them to encourage clients to keep their books accurately and timely, we no longer have to “crunch the numbers”.

“Presented with a complete and correct set of records, we can dig deeper into the business and provide useful advice; for example, advising clients to increase prices in line with their suppliers, or suggesting that they switch banks to avoid increasing charges. This is valuable guidance that builds increased trust and encourages clients to see their accountant as much more than a ticker of boxes.
Emily Coltman, FreeAgent

2. Cameron John, UK/I Leader, Silverfin

It’s a great opportunity to become more efficient and evolve your business model. Completing the low-level compliance work is one the main drains on your staff’s time and productivity. Firms should use technology to automate time-intensive areas such as bookkeeping and data entry that frees up time and allows the team to focus on advising.


Our 2020 annual conference host, Gordon Gilchrist, who has organised the event to address the change in the accounting industry had a strong reason on why firms must jump on the tech bandwagon before it’s too late.

3. Gordon Gilchrist, Writer and Speaker, 2020 Innovation

Our industry is in the midst of massive changes. Whilst we are number two on the hit list of declining roles according to the World Economic Forum, the profession has its biggest opportunity ever to move up the value chain and be well rewarded for doing so.

Forward thinking firms are recognising that “traditional” firms will struggle to survive, let alone compete, with the new wave of technology based businesses that now account for one third of our industry.

There’s never been a more important time to be well informed, well prepared and to understand how you should adapt! Firms attending the 21st Annual 2020 Conference will get the information they need to take the actions to ensure they remain successful!

Some experts got back us with some tips on how and where to get started:

4. Dishant Desai, Global CEO, QXAS

You must change. In fact, you must change the approach first – at least for your clients. Clients want more visibility and efficiency at a reasonable price so firms must change the way they communicate with clients using technology.

Lot of information is available online these days so clients are more aware so accountants have to offer more and offer personalised advice which can create value for them using benchmark reports, MIS dashboards – and much more.

5. Chris Robinson, Founder, QX Ltd

The shift toward consulting market services is apparent. New opportunities, such as virtual CFO’s are surfacing. A new generation businesses want experts instead of people who just keep their books and file their accounts. Firms have to keep up with these emerging needs! The good news is that clients are willing to pay more for these value added services, than they were for only compliance.

6. Pom Chakravarti, UK Country Head, QX Ltd.

Firms need to evolve by expanding and rethinking their services. Basic services like bookkeeping, financial statements and tax returns are still profitable but for seasonal, short-term stretches. In the future, successful firms will generate most of their revenue through financial insight, analysis and other services.

Technology might be the answer to help firms prosper in this changing environment. But for accountants to also prosper, our fellow exhibitor Aynsley Damery had a new role in mind – the role of a friend.

7. Aynsely Damery, CEO and Founder, Clarity

Firms will need to successfully leverage and integrate technology, using the right team, to be able to deliver efficiently and cost effectively what ALL their SME clients are really looking for; which is a trusted friend to help them understand their numbers and cash position and how to improve them, how to actually create a better business and access the appropriate cash and funding required to survive, grow or exit.

Wrap Up

There are recurring themes of an advisory-model, automated tasks and client requirements in most expert predictions for the future. It seems as if as we go head into the future, our success will be largely defined by how we meet the challenges posed by emerging technologies and how we develop our relationship with our clients or “be a friend to them.”

It’s true that change is inevitable but accountants and firms must try to embrace these persistent ups and downs and learn to thrive on this roller coaster of transitions.



Bringing forth rich marketing experience in the accounting industry, Vishal blends his wealth of knowledge and creativity to educate accountants about the pressing industry issues. He is passionate about marketing and helps accountants scale their practice through his detailed write-ups.

Originally published Nov 07, 2019 12:11:43, updated Jan 21 2022


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