Poll: 90 Percent of Accountants Agree Profession Undergoing Major Cultural Shift

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 16, 2019
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A recent poll found that 90 percent of accounting professionals worldwide agree that their industry is undergoing a major cultural shift that will transform what firms do and how they are run. The survey, commissioned by business solutions firm Sage, polled over 3,000 accounting professionals around the world. What this cultural shift means is indicated by other poll responses. 

For instance, 82 percent said they are considering recruiting from nontraditional profiles (such as candidates with technology, and often, specifically, data analytics backgrounds), while 43 percent said it was important that new accountants should have industry experience outside accounting. Overall, 49 percent said that their firms have formally examined their business practices within the past year, and another 26 percent on top of that have done so within the past five years, with a particular focus on technology integration. This related to the 85 percent of respondents saying that firms need to pick up the pace of technology adoption in order to compete internationally. Meanwhile, 30 percent of firms are making an active effort to diversify their workforce, though this seems to be still in its early stages, as only 21 percent have made any policy changes to promote such efforts. 

In the United States, however, this cultural change seems to be a little slower, as 71 percent of U.S. professionals see their role as primarily number crunchers focused on reporting versus 29 percent who see their role as focused on providing financial advice. There also seems to be some hesitance on transitioning from the former to the latter, as 26 percent said there was internal resistance to doing so. Lack of ability also plays a role, with 23 percent saying their firm does not have the technology and tools to implement such a change. 

CPA practices in particular, however, are expected to become further specialized over the years, as 49 percent of CPAs polled said they foresee their firm becoming more industry specialized within the next five years. 

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