The basics of accounting – identifying revenue and calculating expenses – remain unchanged. Accounting principles generally are the same whether you are seated before an abacus or in front of a laptop. However, changes to accounting regulations, methods and the accountants themselves occur. In contrast to the accounting industry's relative stability historically, the last 10 years have brought changes to accounting terms of the technology, the workforce and the level of scrutiny.
Technological advances have affected most industries, and the accounting industry is no exception. New technologies spawn new applications and possibilities, which in turn inspire changes to accounting methods and methodologies. The advent of cloud-enabled computing has brought improvements to mobility and connectivity for accountants. As a result, you are able to work with clients across the globe from the comfort of your home, remotely access your data from a variety of devices regardless of your location or the time, perform advanced computations on the fly and retrieve real-time analytics. Technological changes to accounting have automated many of the inputs and calculations that accountants once had to perform manually. This allows you to play a more analytical and consultative role in your interactions with your clients. Of course, these advances also require you remain flexible, adaptable and perpetually learning in order to keep up with the rapid pace.
The workplace of today looks markedly different from the workplace of 10 years ago. Demographic shifts in the ownership and management of many small businesses have resulted in a more diverse clientele and a need for enhanced cultural competency. Generational patterns are reflected in today's workforce, bringing significant personnel changes to accounting companies and the companies for which they work. This population shift change influences the business landscape as the Baby Boomer generation begins to retire and leadership transitions to a younger generation.
Regulations and rules are certainly nothing new to the field of accounting in general. However, the past 10 years have witnessed several devastating financial scandals that resulted in heightened scrutiny and ushered in several changes to accounting laws. Massive federal legislation was passed, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Care Acts, along with a proliferation of state and local taxes and regulations. 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.
The past decade brought significant changes to accounting and to the world in general, engendered by shifts in technology, diversity and transparency of the industry and surrounding societies. Expect the evolution of accounting to continue on into the next 10 years as well.
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