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How to Prepare Your Accounting Team for the Future

2020 is set to be another fast-paced year for US businesses. The role of a good accounting team is to help a business navigate these changes as smoothly as possible. If you think of a business as a big sailboat, then the accounting team is the keel stuck to the bottom – using mathematics and logic to help keep it stable when waters get rough.

But as we all know, keeping things balanced isn’t always easy; particularly, when a new wave of regulations crashes over the boat without much warning or the captain keeps suddenly switching route. With all that mind, what can Financial Controllers and their Accounting teams do to ensure they’re as prepped as possible to provide stability and support for the 12-month journey ahead?

Here are our top five recommendations:

  1. Start thinking like business advisors, rather than just accountants

    The role of the finance team is shifting from simply crunching numbers to providing the Chief Financial Officer with everything they need to offer strategic business advice. According to McKinsey, the average CFO now has at least six non-finance department heads reporting into them; showing how their role is becoming far more well-rounded, strategic and, no doubt, challenging. Accounting teams have to start thinking like business advisors and providing their CFO with the right information and forward-thinking suggestions at the right time to fulfill his or her new role.

  2. Be ready for IAS 16 

    A new fiscal year means the meeting of new rules and regulations. If you’re a private organization then this is the first year you’ll be expected to stay in line with the new lease accounting standard, IAS 16; whereby you’ll need to know what the outstanding amount of each of your current leases is. Sounds simple, but if you’re a company with multiple capital leases to manage, invoices are often spread out all over the place, making reconciliations problematic. Accounting teams can waste days trying to match invoices to the original lease agreement and track leases through Excel spreadsheets. Deploying digital archiving software to computerize contracts and invoices means financial controllers can easily track all payments and contract terms.

  3. Review and update your accounting processes 

    Pausing at the end of one financial year to review what went well and what could be improved upon for the next is a must for every Financial Controller. Sit down with your team to conduct a thorough de-brief and review of your own internal team processes, and do the same thing with key partners across the business. Your own co-workers are often the best source of inspiration to initiate incremental improvements that can help move the needle on the organization’s overall accounting process. In fact, there’s no reason to only do this at the end of the year; consider setting up regular 360 reviews throughout 2020 to surface small issues before they become big problems.

  4. Get ahead of the technological curve 

    Technology and data are becoming an increasingly important part of an accountant’s life so it’s vital you and your team stay ahead of the curve. Blockchain, cloud, and artificial intelligence are touted as being the most disruptive forces the industry faces in the next decade. If you and your team are part of the half of the sector who have no idea what blockchain is or think artificial intelligence is all about human look-a-like robots doing chores around the home; then you’ve got a lot to catch up on. Set aside budget and time to upskill yourselves, and fast.

  5. Start using your software as your selling point 

    Recruiting and retaining staff is still a big issue for over a third of accounting teams. The money will only incentivize people so far. Consider investing in software solutions that help improve the average accountant’s everyday working life so they can have a healthier work-life balance. The best talent expects to be using cloud-based tools that automate repetitive manual work, leaving them to focus on high-value tasks. The Adra Suite by Trintech is already used by firms such as Jewson, BankTel, and Lidnt to make their finance teams working lives easier.