Canadian Treasurer

April 20, 2017

Report reveals that despite frustrations with technology, accountants acknowledge that automation is the key to the future

RICHMOND--Despite frustrations, accountants acknowledge that technology is the key to the future of the profession. New global research reveals that 86 percent of accountants are happy for technology to make admin elements of their job invisible, freeing them to focus on their clients & building their practice.

Some of the detail shows:

> 38 percent reveal one of their biggest business frustrations is time spent number-crunching
> 32 percent of those surveyed use manual methods as part of their record keeping for clients; 25 percent Excel and 7 percent handwritten notes
> 86 percent say they would be happy for technology to make the admin elements of their job invisible, so they can focus more on their clients and building their practice
> 23 percent would take time off with the extra time they save with automation

The Sage-sponsored survey of 700 accountants which shows that attitudes towards automation within the profession are changing as the benefits become clear -- signaling a new era for the accounting practice. The 'Practice of Now' report, conducted by independent research company Viga, reveals that 96 percent of those surveyed are confident about the future of accounting and their role in it, despite 68 percent see their role changing through automation in the future.

"Change can often divide the crowd. This research shows the majority of accountants see the empowering opportunity that automation can bring, freeing them up to focus on their practice and their clients," said Jennifer Warawa, EVP, product marketing, Sage. "As artificial intelligence and bots become progressively more intuitive, the door opens further towards the future of invisible admin and gives them the space to spend their time on more valuable services for their clients. The industry must come together to support this change and help eliminate any barriers or fears that can hold accountants back. The call to action is now with accountants and small business owners to embrace the change and decide how they will spend the time that automation will afford them."

Canada Specific Data:
The report also showed that 82 percent of Canadian accountants view automating data entry and reporting as a way to create more value-add services for clients. Currently 55 percent use a cloud-based practice management solution to help serve their clients, while the majority stated the most important service that accounting software provides is access to real-time data, allowing them to give clients timely advice and insights.

In an industry moving towards automation, 97 percent of Canadian accountants surveyed voiced confidence about the future of accounting and their role in it, while 60 percent see their role becoming more strategic, allowing them to provide more financial advice to their customers.

Further Global Findings:

Cloud Adoption: With cloud now seen as table stakes in most organizations, cloud-based solutions amongst accountants are proving popular.

> 57 percent say their firm invests in the best technology available, including cloud technology, to help offer the best services to their clients
> 67 percent have adopted a cloud-based practice management solution, and security is seen as the biggest barrier to adopting cloud technology (37 percent), while 14 percent say it's client concerns

Admin & Automation: Many find admin tasks, such as time spent number-crunching, frustrating and can see great benefits in automation such as it freeing their time to serve more clients and creating more services for their clients. However, some still worry about how technology will impact their role.

An overwhelming 86 percent agree that by automating data entry and reporting, they would be free to create services that add value for their clients

Accountants are on the fence as to whether admin is enjoyable or a frustration with 35 percent saying it's the most enjoyable part of their role while 38 percent say time spent number-crunching is their biggest frustration; regardless, they are in agreement that it takes up a lot of their time

> 38 percent believe the biggest threat to the accounting profession is new emerging technology that can do some of the jobs they currently do

> 23 percent would take time off with the extra time they save with automation

Just under half (47 percent) say their biggest business frustration is chasing clients for financial information

Future Gazing - Optimism Prevails: Despite fears and frustrations, accountants have an optimistic view of the future of their profession.

> 96 percent of those surveyed are confident about the future of accounting and their role in it with
> 47 percent are very confident & 49 percent moderately confident
> 68 percent see their role changing through automation in the future
> 43 percent believe it will change through automated admin
> 25 percent see some of their work becoming automated but still applying that information under their control

Over half of accountants surveyed (53 percent) see their roles becoming more strategic and being able to provide more financial and business advice to their customers. When asked what the biggest threats to the accounting profession are, 36 percent believe it to be self-service accounting solutions, with 25 percent saying it's customers not understanding the full benefit of working with an accountant

The Practice of Now research was conducted by research & data collection agency Viga, on behalf of Sage, between the 13th and 27th February 2017. 700 accountants, from entry level to C-suite, were surveyed online across seven markets, including the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, France, Spain and Ireland.

Sage is the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, supporting the ambition of entrepreneurs and business builders.



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