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Editor's Corner: The Year in My View

Jan 8th 2016
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Happy New Year to all! It seems everyone is chiming in with their predictions and trends to watch for 2016, so I figured I would share a few of my own.

My first resolution will be to make this more of a regular column. Not that I'm egocentric, but in staying with our theme of providing useful content to practicing accountants, I thought it best to simply add to the insights on a more regular basis. Couldn't hurt, right?

So on to the task at hand. Mind you, these trends aren't in any particular order of importance, but they're most certainly what I see as the key ones to watch as they'll be the most prevalent over the next year.

Cloud, Cloud and More Cloud

But of course. Cloud has been the ever-present specter over the accounting profession – and business in general – for several years now so it should come as no surprise to see … well, more. What I'm referring to about cloud is not simply more tools to do your job and better serve your clients – that's a given. The trend to watch here: what to move there rather than if or why.

By and large, the days of to move or not to move are all but over, and if you in your practice have moved little to none of your functions into the cloud, you will find it increasingly more difficult to do so. And with the ever-growing availability of tools and services to perform everything from file sharing and storage, to practice management, workflow and all pertinent tax and accounting functions it has, as I said, become more a matter of what to move there.

Each firm is like your own child, it's personal … as are your clients. What you do to nurture it and keep it functioning well is entirely up to you as the parent. And, like any parent, you want to do what is best for your child's growth, utilizing all that is available to you. So, if you haven't started researching what's out there, it's only going to become that much more difficult to simply stay as you are.

Rise of Expense Management Tools

There have been some expense management automation tools on the market for a few years now, and from what I'm seeing, we could very well see them rise in popularity and quantity. There's a couple of reasons behind this. The easy answer is simply the automation of anything that at one time was more manual and prone to errors, in order to save time, frustration, and even money.

Whatever it is in a business function that an accountant or CPA may oversee for their clients can, quite simply, be better served through automation. Any of you who do expense management for your clients know what I'm talking about. It can, in a word, “suck.” But it doesn't have to, so look for more options to make this a smoother process. What makes this more of a key trend to watch for is the attention to accounting fraud, in particular with expenses where statistics are showing fraud is more prevalent.

In many cases, the fraudulent activity is not deliberate or the accountant isn't always made aware because some internal bookkeeper handles it and doesn't properly share the right information. Or, in many cases, there's limited company policies around expenses so things go unchecked and unfettered – often to the tune of hundreds or thousands of dollars each month. Expense management automation tools help put a stop to all of that so look for them to gain serious popularity.

A Wearable Work World

While it may seem premature given the limited uptake of wearable devices, business applications are marching their way to the wearables market and we'll likely see an increase in offerings over the next  year. We've already seen business and accounting applications for the Apple Watch that, much like the device itself, may seem limiting in its functions but will improve as their use rises.

Granted, like early iterations of mobile applications, these have started off as simple extensions of existing cloud-based tools, offering more of a gateway to basic functionality. But, again this will rapidly change as demand for more mobile-friendly tools rises. I'm not saying this is the year you'll regularly be doing a full expense report or bank reconciliation on your watch or other wearable device, but it won't be long before you can take what you need with you.

This has been really a quick snapshot of what I think the top trends are to watch for, but as ever feel free to add your own or let me know how off base I am. Thanks again and, of course, let's keep the conversation going!


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