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Meet the accountant of the future

The accountant of the future will need a new set of skills, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, as he meets both the local users and the global creators of Xero accounting software

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Buchule and Sivenathi Sibaca get a highrise view of London. Pic by Arthur Goldstuck

The remarkable aspect of this journey is that it perfectly mirrored the dominant theme of Xerocon 2019. While Xero used the event to unveiled new products and services, the keynote addresses focused on purpose, community and making the world a better place.

“The more technology provides, the more that human dimensions matters, the more the people connection will matter,” said Steve Vamos, global CEO of Xero.

“Even when presented with the best technology that says this is the information you need to make the best decisions for your business, most small business owners will not pay attention, because they too busy doing what they’re doing every day. It’s the human insights the accountants provide that are going to make the most difference.”

The Sibacas felt vindicated.

“What was really emphasized here is that we really are on the right track,” said Buchule. “Everyone still believes that, what it will take to move South Africa forward and the whole profession forward, is automation. And yes, that is cool and it helps efficiencies, but it’s really the human touch that makes an impact. It then says, that’s why we exist: to help people make better financial decisions to help them succeed. It’s a humanness that is really our passion and not to say that we exist to make bookkeeping more automated. 

“Our clients don’t say, ‘Thank you, you’ve done that reconciliation in less than two minutes.’ They say, ‘Thank you. You’ve helped them make a better decision today, that will create more sustainability tomorrow’.”

Xero CEO Steve Vamos presents his human vision of accounting at Xerocon 2019. Pic by Arthur Goldstuck

Steve Vamos offered the exact same perspective when we interviewed him later.

“You have accountants and accounting firms who adopt cloud because they’re motivated to make their practice more efficient. Then, beyond that, you’ve got accountants who go further in that they see the opportunity then to help their small business customers get more value from the fact that there are 800 applications connected to the accounting platform. 

“Ten or 20 years from now, I cannot imagine that there will be significant accounting firms that don’t have cloud fully deployed. I always say that change happens slowly quickly, in that in the moment, it’s very slow. But then you look back a few years out and look back at what’s happening and say, well, that was quick. So it’s kind of slow, and it’s quick.

“As long as I’ve been in the tech industry, the fear of job losses and not having sufficient work for human beings has been around constantly. And there’s no doubt that, in sectors of the economy there have been pain points, there have been people who’ve been displaced, and it hasn’t been easy for them. Every person that is affected in that way is worthy of reflection and support and consideration. But, at a macro level, we are pretty good at creating new jobs and inventing professions.  I think humans will be just as good inventing new jobs as technology will be in changing the nature of many jobs.”

Visit the next page to read about how software can reinvent a business.

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