In a poll conducted in October 2009, 39% of accountants agreed that technology was the biggest factor driving change in the profession, placing it second only to increased regulator complexity (57%) and equal to the impact of the global recession. This figure is even higher among accountants in practice, with almost half (43%) saying technology is the biggest factor driving change.
The majority (95%) of accountants are now comfortable reading and searching for accountancy information online, and with processing information and data online, which 84% say isn’t a problem. In this respect, accountants are ahead of business owners (clients) and managers surveyed – only 70% say the same.
There is also a gap between accountants and their clients when it comes to sharing documents online, with 45% of clients saying they don’t share documents online and don’t plan to in the near future. Only 34% of accountants say this and a quarter (25%) say the ability to work with digital documents has been most beneficial development to the accounting profession on the last decade.
However, accountants may be wary of moving their processes entirely online too quickly because over half (55%) of the clients polled expect them to process information both online and in hardcopy format.
Cathy Wolfe, the UK CEO of Wolters Kluwer, the parent company of CCH, says: “It is good to see that accountants are leading the way when it comes to using new technologies in their businesses. By moving processes and information online, they can improve speed and efficiency, accuracy and cut down on paper. This all means better service and happier clients.
“However, it seems that they may have some work to do to make their clients understand the benefits of what technology can bring in terms of process efficiency.”