Thoughts on the next generation of accountants, from an accountant.
Who is the next generation?
The next generation of accounting isn't today’s students or recent graduates. Accounting does not lend itself to easy learning; there are many nuances. To fully comprehend accounting and have breadth or depth of knowledge, it will take years of experience and building your ability to make professional judgments depending on difficult situations. The only way to add value to a client's business is if you have a lot of experience.
Using that information, the next generation of accountants who are capable of running a firm is likely in their early 30’s or 40’s. They would have enough time to gain real-world experience and learn the craft, along with its many nuances.
What is their perception?
Most people coming out of school have not heard of QuickBooks. In Edmonton, Sage is mostly taught in class and many grads are not familiar with Intuit products.
Those in their 30s and 40s think Intuit's reputation for supporting accountants more than any other accounting solution and provides a sense of security.
It is this perception of the brand that is more likely to attract bookkeepers. On the other hand, most accountants are more interested in the facts and details than in the branding. Intuit is perceived as having the greatest level of support and willingness to earn the business of accountants and bookkeepers alike. Therefore, the majority of people choose it.
What are their motivations?
The biggest motivation for accountants is to stay in their comfort zone. Accountants like comfort and safety. In this vein, the biggest motivation for accountants may just be making their client happy and not having them leave, which means choosing an FMS that keeps them happy and satisfied with their level of service.
At the end of the day, people aren't really worried about cost, just whether or not they will retain clients. Most business owners don't want a lot of clients because they lack the capabilities or capacity to grow.
What is the ideal world for the next generation of accountants?
Marketing help, business development services, and events have been some of the most helpful tools provided to the next generation of accountants.
However, there is a sense of anxiety among all of the next generations regarding how they will fit into the future working landscape. It will be increasingly difficult to find a role in society in the next five to ten years. The key is to determine how to remain relevant in the face of technology, which is here to stay.
A major issue facing the next generation is that obtaining an accounting degree and designation will not teach someone how to approach small businesses specifically.
Students are taught about large corporations and Audit/Review engagements mainly in college. Therefore, the “next-gen” that is straight out of college isn’t quite “there yet”.
To illustrate things, appealing to the younger generation would require involvement with accounting programs on the campus level. Schools would need to teach the principles of accounting and business management.
One example of this is how Sage is taught in classes at some colleges. Therefore, this is the program many new graduates are most comfortable with upon graduation. Most accountants prefer to work for a big firm for several reasons. There is a great deal of information available, as opposed to being on your own, trying to find your own clients, and managing a business at the same time. Further, if a big firm is able to provide an application that can give feedback from real-life situations, then this would be a great thing for the next generation.