How Technological Advances in the Accounting Profession will Affect Staffing Needs and Staff Training

This was the most recent question posed to me by the CPA Leadership Institute.  As a member of this organization’s Leadership Panel, I am asked to provide insight, responding to a monthly question about some aspect of the accounting industry.  My reply to this month’s question was as follows:
I am convinced that factors such as the ease and affordability of technology (fueled by the current economic situation and, more specifically, gas prices) will affect these issues across multiple industries, including accounting.  Some significant changes I predict will be:
Professional staff will not be required to report to an office every day of the workweek.  As more firms start to embrace remote access for staff, it will become more commonplace for accountants to work from outside the office – which will, most likely, gravitate toward flexible hours for many employees.
Electronic communications and filing will reduce the cost of office and storage space requirements.  Conversely, budgets will diminish as certain administrative positions become unnecessary (such as mailroom and filing clerks).  Postage costs should all but disappear as password-protected digital files become more commonplace.
Geographical boundaries will be lifted as webinars replace in-house seminars, increasing the timeliness and convenience for continuing education for professional staff.  I have already noticed a trend in CPA firms’ peaked interest in webinar software.

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