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How technology is helping accountants – Q&A

The GradNewZealand team recently caught up with Shailan Patel, Education Manager at MYOB New Zealand, where he provided his insights into how technology is helping accountants and the accounting & advisory industry.

Firstly, what made you want to step into the education space?

It was probably more of a stumble than a step into the sector, but one I’m pleased I made.  I really enjoy how education is full of promise, ambition and opportunity.

How did you get to your current position and how long have you occupied it?

I had a background in sales and advertising and this opportunity kind of just came up, but it’s something I really took to, I’ve now been MYOB’s Education Manager for more than 4 years.

What technologies are helping the shift into accounting automation and creating new roles for accountants?

The rapid development of technology, automation, and cloud-based computing is changing the accounting industry.  This is successfully allowing accountants to focus more on advising and supporting their clients than traditional transactional processes.

On top of that increases in computing power, device connectivity, data generation, advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, will continue to change (and hopefully improve) the way all of us work.

Why is technology important in the accounting industry?

It’s important because it’s making things simpler and more effective for both accountants and their clients.  Leaving more time to focus on the things that matter, like adding value to their business and their customers.

How do you think this will benefit the accounting sector in the future?

MYOB is optimistic about the future of the accounting industry; our vision is 'The Connected Practice'. This is the coming together of three critical functions within accounting; transaction processing, compliance and business advisory. 'The Connected Practice' seeks to leverage time saved from automation to enable accountants to focus on advising clients.

How will this affect the future of work?

With online accounting solutions like MYOB accounting practices may need to adjust their businesses to ensure their services are offering greater value to their clients. Accountants that harness technology to provide tailored insights and actionable recommendations will continue to be successful.

Young people with tech in their DNA will hopefully find this a very natural progression, particularly if they also stay focused on customer value creation and good old-fashioned relationships.

And finally, what three pieces of miscellaneous advice would you give to students or fresh accounting graduates seeking a graduate job? They don’t necessarily have to be related to studies or professional life.

  • Be ‘disruption ready’ in your mindset – in a recent MYOB Future of Work survey of 18-24 year olds 44% expect to have between two and five career changes. Young people will face unprecedented changes in technology and automation as they commence and develop their careers.  Our advice is go with it, flex, learn and enjoy the ride – upskilling at every point you can.
  • Soft skills, soft skills, soft skills – encouragingly in the same Future of Work survey mentioned above, half of those surveyed acknowledged that soft skills will help support their future career.  In reality, it’s your soft skills which will differentiate you in the market because these are the skills that are difficult to automate or replicate.  So work on your EQ, get out there talking to people and networking. Meaningful connections will turn into meaningful relationships, and although this process takes time, it’s even more valuable as a result. A connection that you make today may help you further down the track, perhaps even in the years to come.
  • Don’t give up – combine both of the above and don’t give up.  There will be set backs and challenges, it won’t always be easy to put yourself out there, but keep on learning and trying.  You’re not supposed to have all the answers at the beginning and that’s actually the fun part!