A recent story in Accounting Today looked at the changing face of the accounting industry, noting that fewer people are choosing to account as a profession, which means it is becoming harder to find good talent.

Many of the most experienced CPAs, the Baby Boomers, are retiring from the industry, either because of age or because they are no longer able to conduct business the way they did 20 or 30 years ago. No matter the reason, the exodus is leaving a major gap in the talent pool.

The accountants and CPAs who are able to adapt to a new business-as-usual will come out on top, better able to serve customers of every size.

According to the article, “Firm of the Future,” consolidations among accounting firms are speeding up, with fewer and fewer big firms competing for clients. But, there has been relatively flat growth in demand for accounting services and a lot of pressure in the industry regarding fees.

That opens up a major opportunity for companies, such as Catching Clouds, that have embraced cloud technology to better serve as a virtual controller for small- to medium-sized businesses. We’ve always believed that offering one price for our services is a more honest approach to working with our clients and by working within the cloud, we are more nimble.

New accounting technologies come out all the time, making it easier for fewer people to do the jobs once handled by many, but the talent shortage is making it harder for companies to find and keep accounting talent. Outsourcing has been a buzzword for decades in many different industries, and in the case of accounting, that took the form of outsourced tax returns to other countries. Now , if companies can’t hire good accounting people on staff, they look for contractors who can take care of the work from the outside.

“That sort of work won’t be limited to individual tax returns, however,” the story said. “Future outsourcing will include basic bookkeeping and compilations and other non-audit work.”

Customization is a big growth area for accounting firms. Developing technologies that simplify projects that take hours to complete is the wave of the future. Companies that can look at the big picture and come up with original ideas will do better in the new, more high tech marketplace.

Here are some of the traits that firms of the future should exhibit, according to Accounting Today, and even though the article targets larger accounting firms, the same ideas could apply to smaller companies that focus on more niche markets:

  • Allow more flexibility in your working arrangements.
  • Provide ongoing training as part of your professional duties. Firms that provide it will be better able to retain good employees.
  • Treating everyone at your company as mediocre will only make your company mediocre. Reward those who do well and don’t reward the ones who don’t meet expectations.
  • Take risks. The companies that embrace change will be around for the long-term.

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