It can no longer be business as usual in the accounting profession.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, Senator Kay McConney, has urged local accountants to embrace the digital age instead of seeing their profession as “being under siege by technology”.
Speaking at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) Students’ Conference themed: Embracing Change Together this morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Senator McConney, told the room of student and professional accountants that much like Government, their profession was undergoing a digital transformation.
“The government sector, like the accounting profession and every other sector globally, has been impacted by technology. We recognize that the way we must now serve our various publics must change….
“As Minister responsible for Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, I encourage you to adopt a mindset for growth. Imagine yourself learning, adapting, changing and thriving in the new digitally-driven world order. In holding space for growth – your own, your profession’s, your country’s – ask yourself ‘What do you want to create as a professional community of accounting professionals that will sustain growth?’; ‘What will you allow to take root and take hold in our experience of professional transformation in this digital age?’; and ‘How will you prepare yourself and your clients to seize the moment?’”
The Senator pointed out that some professionals in traditional industries like accounting found themselves “uncomfortable, and unprepared to confront a future that seemed increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous”.
She warned that whatever happened to the profession in the future would be influenced by what they as professionals created or allowed to happen now.
“Identify as the owner and author of your story – and as the co-authors of our country’s story. The response required today from every professional, business, school, child or parent is not simply to grapple with the challenges upon us now; it is to imagine what is ahead and prepare in earnest,” the Innovation Minister urged.
She told those accounting students attending the conference that the real transformational work for which the profession, and Barbados, must prepare to undertake, was that of transforming minds and not just of upgrading skills.
Illustrating just how much the profession had changed through technology, the Minister said that accounting software had replaced the ledger, producing increased levels of accuracy and reducing errors, while instantaneous data made real time accounting possible.
Additionally, she said that with the advent of cloud computing, accountants could now work from any location and deliver financial statements and reports across any distance.
Furthermore, the Minister pointed out that Artificial Intelligence was automating complex and high volume tasks, and freeing more of the Accountant’s time to focus on strategic matters.
“And, as mobile devices reduce the frequency of face-to-face consultations, our apps, smart phones and tablets are becoming the new meeting spaces; the new invoicing and receipting books; and the trusted reconciling authority.
“Whether for your business, or your clients’ business, social media, too, has become an essential tool to engage clients and expand your reach. The world of accounting has changed,” she emphasized.