Technology shaping future roles for accounting professionals

As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and integral to all aspects of businesses, accounting professionals can expect a shift towards more strategic and analytical roles, predicts Randstad Singapore.

The Asia Pacific recruitment firm says that with the automation and integration of processes and systems, roles such as general ledger, accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP) may potentially be phased out over time.

However, safeguarded from automation are roles such as financial planning and analysis as well as business controlling which still require input from internal stakeholders as well as a deep understanding of overall market conditions, the industry segment and the business as a whole.

In the long term, the firm expects non-traditional accounting roles to increasingly be in demand. The onset of technology will call for accountants who have extensive computer software skills to meet data management and analytical needs. In addition, the accounting and finance functions are likely to see a growing need for candidates with business partnering skills and regional exposure.

Threat and opportunity

“Technology can often be seen as a threat as certain roles would be rendered obsolete,” says Lim Chai Leng, director – accounting, banking and finance services, Randstad Singapore. “However, with the automation of systems new roles become more prevalent. These roles are often more sophisticated and strategic which tend to have a greater impact to the bottom line of the business.

“Candidates should constantly be looking to improve their skills, especially by learning new software and technology platforms which are fast becoming industry standards. Additionally, employees can hold discussions with their managers to analyse areas of day-to-day processes which can be streamlined or automated. This will allow candidates to focus more on strategic and planning work in areas where technology can’t replace.”

Across the industry, Randstad Singapore expects the average salary increase for the region to be 5-8%, consistent with previous years, but depending on the specific industry of operation. “Certain industries, such as oil/gas and manufacturing, are not performing as well, and therefore salary increases are expected to be lower than those seen in the services industries,” the firm comments. Finance managers, accountants as well as financial planning and analysis professionals can expect to see the largest growth in salary, it adds.

The average bonus is expected to range between one to three months, with sectors such as fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail, information technology, telecommunications and services industries most likely to lead with higher bonuses.

“Employers looking to retain and grow their talent should look at training and development programmes to upgrade their staff’s computing skills to capitalize on available technology platforms,” the firm comments.

“Companies should also actively examine work flows that can be automated to reduce manual work and enable employees to do more strategic or analytical work. Job rotations are also an attractive option to retain talent. Employees can be cross-trained to take on different portfolios and roles, allowing for greater mobility in talent management.”

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