Writer: Alejandro Sanchez
2 min read October 2021— Business leaders in Miami agree that the accounting sector is undergoing a profound transformation as state-of-the-art technologies are incorporated into their daily operations and services. In fact, as automation becomes more prevalent, accountants are expected to adopt a more strategic role in the near future.
As traditional functions like bookkeeping and payroll are automated, the foundational role of accountants is becoming more like that of integral advisers.
“Tax and accounting went on a furlough for the business. People weren’t concerned about their taxes; they were worried about their business. Even still, there was a tremendous increase in advisory services,” said Stewart Appelrouth, co-founder of Appelrouth Farah & Co. during an interview with Invest:. “Overall, the accounting world has changed. As accountants in today’s world, we are equally focused on business advisory and consultative services.”
The introduction and widespread adoption of technology has been the instigator of change in the sector, a change that was highlighted by the pandemic and the forced distancing that ensued. In many ways, the accounting industry was already prepared. “Technology is completely transforming the accounting industry,” Armando Hernandez, CEO of H&CO, told Invest:. “For example, we’re using artificial intelligence to automate various accounting processes and tasks. Our technology allows us to work from anywhere, which means we are able to efficiently serve our clients worldwide.”
But that same flexibility to “work from anywhere” has had a downside during the shift to an increasingly virtual work environment. For example, due to long working hours, isolation has become a problem for some accountants who miss the human interaction with coworkers.
“They may or may not admit it but I believe many people are struggling with the difficulty of the demands of the industry as well as the isolation associated with working at home and not having the same relationships and connectivity with coworkers that we’re accustomed to,” said EisnerAmper Partner-in-Charge for South Florida Barry Gould.
Although a virtual environment presented an opportunity to work safely from home, accountants saw a substantial increase in demand for their services partly due to that transformation. Although demand from some industries eased, others needed the constant advice of accounting professionals to face the challenges of a new business reality.
“The biggest surprise was how much work we had,” said Art Giacosa, principal Miami market leader at RSM US LLP. “We thought we would see a slowdown in various businesses and to some extent we did in certain sectors, including travel and hospitality. However, we’ve been busier with other industries due to pushed tax deadlines and our clients’ needs, whether security or technology, as they pivoted to not only a remote work environment but a higher demand on the digital consumer environment.”
The virtual transformation is also changing the nature of the service provided by accountants. For example, with the widespread use of cryptocurrencies, accountants are ready to enter this new form of doing business.
“The whole notion of cryptocurrency has become important.” Craig Armstrong, managing partner of the Miami office at Hancock Askew & Co LLP, told Invest:. “The unwritten truth behind cryptocurrency is that it’s not going away and there are a lot of useful solutions that can be derived from the virtual currency space as it relates to family wealth from Latin American countries.”