Before the advent of financial technology (fintech), traditional accountancy roles focused primarily on manual data entry and record-keeping which was time-consuming and not without risk. The frequency at which an accountant could give advice to their clients was also restricted to monthly, quarterly, or even yearly financial statements, leaving large periods during which lucrative opportunities could be missed. 

When we consider recent accounting service statistics that reveal up to 75% of the day-to-day tasks an accountant needs to complete can now be automated with accounting software, it is easy to grasp how important the embrace of fintech has become for finance professionals. The skills of Technology literacy (57%), relationship building (46%), and business advisory (44%) are also now listed as ‘vital skills a 21st-century accountant must possess.’ 

In recent years, both accountants and their clients have gained access to a grand wealth of real-time financial information through fintech apps, which, when utilised correctly, have meant finance professionals can take more time to fulfil the role of strategic advisor, as opposed to mere bookkeeper. Going forward, we will look at how fintech is transforming the role of accountants, and the benefits that embracing these technological advancements can bring to both the accountant and their clients. 

Impact of Fintech and Automation on Accounting 

Accountants who have not yet embraced the digital transformation towards online bookkeeping are losing out on numerous benefits, most notably the time gained through the automation of routine tasks. Fintech advancements have enabled modern accountancy firms to move away from manual data entry, instead allocating time and resources towards improving services and client relations. 

Automation of Routine Tasks: The most time-consuming and tedious accounting processes that were historically troubled by human error, such as bank reconciliations, invoice processing and general data entry, no longer require the full focus of an accountant. It is not just human error that is eliminated once automation begins, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning work together to ensure the efficient maintenance of financial data, completing tasks instantaneously and in real time. Financial management software for example is capable of categorising expenses, and then reconciling bank statements to eliminate the need for manual ledger entries. 

Fintech Solutions in Accounting: Fintech solutions have helped the financial sector innovate in more ways than just data automation. Advancements in cloud accounting software have meant accountancy firms now have access to real time financial reporting and analysis that is accessible remotely and globally. Firms can now connect to their clients flexibly, and with access to more live information than ever before, can help them to make informed financial decisions regardless of their location or the timezone.  

As technology improves, more accountancy tasks will be moved to automated systems, which should be seen as a useful boon to finance professionals as opposed to a threat. It means accountants can dedicate more time to advisory roles, allowing them to grow into their status of strategic planner, forecaster, and consultant. Number accuracy will also be more reliable, which should grant both accountants and their clients a deeper trust in the advice they are giving and receiving. 

The Accountant as a Strategic Advisor 

The ongoing advancements in fintech are transforming accountants from the traditional number crunchers of yesteryear, into strategic advisors, pivotal to the financial decision-making processes of their clients’ businesses. We have touched on the subject, but below is a deeper look at some of the processes accountants are capable of aiding clients with due to the increasingly rich data that fintech produces: 

Leveraging Data Insights: Big data, combined with ML, AI, and predictive analytics, grants accountants access to comprehensive financial data sets that can be used to deliver unique business advice. Access to real time numbers also means advice is based on active circumstances, which should bolster the accountant’s confidence in their ability to tailor financial recommendations and give reliable advice on metrics, from cost reduction strategies to revenue optimisation across the board. 

Strategic Financial Planning: Financial data forecasts also help accountants reliably predict trends, improving budget prep, and readying their clients for a multitude of typical financial scenarios. For instance, when faced with a potential investment or expansion opportunity, an accountant who has access to deep financial insights can guide their client towards making a well-informed choice. This guidance can prevent unnecessary expenditures or deter decisions that might not be advantageous, especially if more urgent financial obligations require attention. 

With the wealth of data available today, accountants have the opportunity to become efficient at not just assessing potential business risks, but also identifying growth opportunities. By evaluating market conditions and historical financial data, accountants can increase their impact on a client’s success, making them indispensable partners in strategic decision-making. 

Using Fintech Tools for Personalised Client Engagement 

There is a plethora of fintech platforms on the market today, so selecting the right accounting software is important for both finance professionals and their clients. The continued adoption of fintech tools for accountants has allowed firms to greatly enhance the services they provide, and should not forget to help their clients in making an informed choice regarding open accounting and open banking. It can ultimately help in their ability to fulfil the position of advisor in a proactive partnership. 

Tailored Advice and Anticipating Needs: There is a variety of fintech platforms that can equip accountants with real time predictive analytics. From popular brands like QuickBooks to more community-driven open source bookkeeping techs that offer businesses access to tailor-made solutions, relevant to running in-house operations on a daily basis. For accountants, this means a client’s needs can be anticipated through identifying emerging trends, spotting potential issues through analytics, and advising on opportunities using solid, up-to-date financial data. 

Proactively Addressing Financial Challenges: Fintech tools also allow accountants to establish notifications for important financial markers, meaning they can take proactive measures in dealing with their clients’ issues before they become significant. This might involve any number of financial metrics, from tax strategies and cash flow analysis to market adaptions or product plans. By being proactive rather than reactive, an accountant can help their clients innovate and remain ahead of the curve where their finances are concerned. 

Skills and Knowledge for the Modern Accountant 

While the fintech tools for accountants are there and waiting to be embraced, the transition from traditional data entry to a strategic advisory role with fintech at the heart of operations naturally requires a skillset expansion. This may require that an accountant trains to expand their knowledge base, and should not be shied away from. Fintech innovations are the future of financial management, after all, so embracing the learning curve should be welcomed. 

New Skill Sets for Strategic Advisory: Learning to be proficient in data analysis and interpretation will allow an accountant to understand both their clients’ financial numbers and the story those numbers tell about their business. As technology advances, accountants must increasingly master skills in strategic planning, risk management, and financial forecasting. These competencies, combined with the rich data provided by fintech, are becoming essential. Clients now expect their accountants not only to understand financial information but also to communicate it both clearly and compellingly. 

Continuous Learning and Adaptation: It is important for accountants to prioritise and maintain up-to-date knowledge of the technology they use, including regulatory updates and financial management techniques. This way accountants can keep both themselves and their clients aware of changes that may affect their finances. This may also include important new mandates that are necessary to know by law. For most well-known fintech brands, there is an extensive resource pool where webinars and dedicated forums are accessible, as well as the opportunity to communicate with developers and other users who help ensure relevant accounting innovations remain accessible and understandable. 

By embracing new competencies, accountants can enhance their value to clients while staying ahead of any competition that does not take the inevitability of change so seriously. The gap will continue to grow as tech innovates further, and maintaining a grasp on how fintech is improving will ultimately ensure you can provide accounting services that the competition cannot. 

Parting Thoughts 

Fintech will continue to revolutionise the role that accountants take for their clients, and it has mostly been facilitated thanks to the automation of once routine tasks, giving way to automated, real time financial data, void of human error, that enables accountants to focus on providing proactive, valuable strategic insights, as opposed to reactive advice based on outdated information. By embracing these technological advancements, accountants can position themselves to give more impactful advice, tailored to the unique needs and goals of their clients. 

The large-scale integration of fintech tools in accounting practices underscores a new approach to client engagement and financial management, where accountants can use the data from fintech providers to anticipate challenges and capitalise on opportunities, strengthening the accountant-client relationship and cementing the accountant’s role as an essential strategic partner in the modern business landscape. 

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