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South Africa’s accountants are becoming financial advisors – here’s why

Evolving technologies and changing customer expectations are major contributing factors to disruption in the accounting industry across the globe.

This is according to the fourth iteration of Sage’s annual Practice of Now report, which provides insights and practical advice for accountants and bookkeepers based on the latest industry research.

Sage surveyed 3,298 accountants globally for the report – including 255 South Africans – to form an independent view of the state of the industry.

According to feedback from the respondents, accounting is on the brink of positive disruption that will see its range of services being diversified.

A diversified service menu

The survey showed that customers increasingly expect business and strategy advice that is far beyond the usual core remit of accounting and bookkeeping services.

Although core competencies are still required, customers now need more services – including advice on technology, digital transformation, growth, and compliance.

Accountants who can deliver these services therefore offer a more valuable proposition to their client base.

Increased confidence

Fortunately, there appears to be a high level of preparedness for this demand, as accountants are embracing the opportunity to become change makers.

The survey showed many are increasingly confident in providing advice outside of the areas of core accountancy and bookkeeping.

  • 79% of survey respondents said they were confident or very confident in providing business management and advisory services such as marketing, cashflow, HR, people management, and growth modelling.
  • 75% were confident or very confident in providing industry specific advice for customers, including standard profit margins for their sector, sector regulations, or recommended cash stockpile levels.
  • 73% were confident or very confident in providing technology implementation and recommendations beyond accounting and finance, like in automation, robotic process automation, or timekeeping software.

In addition, the survey showed that accountants were actively taking steps to improve their skills and broaden expertise to be able to service these demands, as indicated in the infographic below.

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South Africa’s accountants are becoming financial advisors – here’s why