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Technology is king

Wow Companyís Paul Bulpitt says itís time for accountancy firms to get with the program and get IT savvy

March 2017

There are far too many accountancy firms you would not want to send your children to, claims co-founder of the Wow Company, Paul Bulpitt.
The key speaker at the recent ICAEW Higher Education conference, Bulpitt claimed that the lack of technology at some accountancy firms was almost shameful. He likedened them to being workhouses!
So while most of us now live our lives online and on our smartphones, when you enter the offices of certain accountancy firms they can feel a bit disconnected and old-fashioned.
Bulpitt felt that clients and even new graduates have expectations of connectivity. He understood that there are risks with going online, but the move on to the cloud and beyond is inevitable, and firms who donít take on the technological challenges will end up becoming almost valueless.
Bulpitt then moved on to some stats to prove his point. He said that 86% of UK businesses are now using the cloud and 50% of SMEs are predicting they will move their whole IT infrastructure onto it.
A recent survey of accountants and bookkeepers found just 14% of them on the cloud. This highlights for Bulpitt the gap between accountants and possible future business clients.
He stressed that digital cannot be just a department, either. Most businesses are now tech businesses, and like them accountancy firms canít put digital to the side.
Accountants wonít be able to hide behind the transactional either. The rise of AI will see to that. The days when the top dog in the office was the person who was the quickest to type numbers into the calculator have long gone.
However, while technology needs to underpin everything you do, it is still about people when it comes to competitive advantage, stressed Bulpitt.
The new roles will be more predictive (less looking back), more analytical and all about data management, he ventures.
Cyber security roles will also be on the rise. He also sees a jump in high integrity accounting jobs, spotting the accounting issues and working on anti-fraud measures.
Setting yourself up as an accountant has never been easier, and many people are still doing this. But Bulpitt believes that itís tough being a one-man (or woman) band and he predicts there is going to be massive consolidation in the coming years.
There is no getting away from technology, however, and he believes that technology expands capability, it does limit it. He pointed out that since Uber launched there are 26% more cabs in London. The introduction of cash machines didnít end people working in banks either, but the jobs they did changed.
Bulpitt felt that there has never been a more exciting time to be an accountant. He predicts a massive demand for accountants, but what they are asked to do could be different.

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