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How Accounting Has Changed in the Last Five Years

Most people assume accounting has been the same since civilization started conducting business thousands of years ago; the perception is that it’s all about weighing costs and revenue. While the foundation of accounting stays true to its origins, it has faced some significant changes in the last five years. Here are a few of those changes.

Accounting Joins the Cloud

Image via Flickr by StockMonkeys.com

QuickBooks was once the end-all be-all of accounting technology, but its monopoly on accounting software is going the way of the dinosaur. Other platforms, such as Xero, Accounting by Wave, and Canopus Treasury are crowding the market, making for stiff competition that leads to a steady stream of new features that make accountants’ lives easier.

Most modern accounting programs are cloud-based, giving users easy anytime, anywhere access to their information. Technology also enables collaboration between accountant peers across the world, and it makes connecting with and explaining things to clients simpler.

Another positive technological development is the full automation of some tasks that accountants formerly had to do manually, leading to a positive shift in the role that accountants play. They can now spend more time giving sound financial advice to clients.

Workplace Culture Continues to Evolve

A changing workplace culture is the natural complement to evolving technology in the accounting industry.

Because technology enables easy collaboration across the world, a more multicultural flavor is making its way into accounting firms. The accounting department of a major corporation may have workers in Asia, Europe, and other places; this meeting of minds is an open doorway for fresh new ideas.

About 75 percent of members of the American Institute of CPAs are near retirement age, and many members of the Baby Boomer generation have already retired. Younger talent, which includes recent graduates of Master of Science in Accounting programs, is making its way into the industry. Perhaps related to this ongoing trend is the adoption of social media as an accounting business tool that helps firms build good relationships with their clients.

Rules and Regulations Shift Constantly

Most accountants are detail-oriented people, which is good since the laws and regulations around accounting are in a constant state of flux. In 2014 alone, the Financial Accounting Standards Board posted 17 updates to accounting standards. You can browse the list of updates and click on the links to read the full documents.

One of the reasons behind the flurry of changes is the financial scandals that have taken place in recent years. As an article on Beyond puts it, “Designed in part as a means of improving the transparency of financial transactions, this heightened level of scrutiny and regulatory oversight brings changes to accounting that require you to keep current with ever-shifting legal and political expectations and demands.” Clearly, accountants must adapt and pay attention to all the news that surrounds their job.

The past half-decade has seen significant changes in the world of accounting, and it doesn’t seem likely for the industry to come to a standstill anytime soon. Emerging accountants, who stay on top of the changes in their field, are gearing themselves up for future success.