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1st January, 2020

4 bookkeeping trends to watch out for in 2020

Driven by a combination of tech development and regulatory change, the evolution of bookkeeping continues apace in 2020. In this piece, First Class Accounts’ Richard Oster discusses four of the main trends to watch.

At First Class Accounts, we’re lucky enough to have a dedicated team that focuses on sourcing and implementing new technology, new developments in compliance and new directions in business practice.

Our support team are always researching the latest trends in the industry and pass this information onto our franchise network to make sure everyone’s able to perform at their best.

With this in mind, we tasked our support team to compile their top four workplace predictions for bookkeepers in 2020.


1. Technology & AI will continue to dominate


Cloud-based, online accounting transformed the bookkeeping and accounting industry, and technology is not done with us yet.

Our alerts are always pinging with new programs, applications and add-ons that make our lives as bookkeepers so much easier.

By streamlining and automating processes, bookkeepers can develop add-on services and spend more time on client services to make sure their clients get value-driven services.

The days of a bookkeeper’s single purpose being to input that shoebox of receipts into the ledger are long gone. And the rollout of STP in Australia last year and Payday Filing in New Zealand in 2018 showed us that the powers that be are just as invested in technology and streamlining processes as we are.

We view keeping up to date with the latest tech trends as a must for bookkeepers, and educating yourself on new developments is vital.


2. Bookkeeping will continue to shift towards advisory and planning


All this new technology & automation means the bookkeeping role is changing.

Bookkeepers are becoming more like business advisors and virtual CFOs, rather than data processors.

Being able to analyse the numbers and make recommendations to the way our clients work is how most of our bookkeepers are spending their time these days.

Beyond operating financial software and submitting BAS (Australia-only), bookkeepers have to understand what the numbers mean for business performance and communicate that to their clients.

Bookkeepers that haven’t embraced technology or are reluctant to help their clients beyond basic data entry will undoubtedly need to upskill if they want to thrive in 2020 and beyond.


3. Finding balance in business


As small business owners whose purpose is to support small business owners, bookkeepers need to focus on their own work-life balance as well as helping their clients achieve it for themselves.

We’ve seen a real trend towards finding the clients that fit your business, rather than just saying yes to everyone, as well as not being afraid to let clients go if the working relationship is not a positive experience.

Finding a way to balance workload with planning (the old working on your business, rather than in it) is also key to a successful practice and balanced work life.

Finding meaning in your work by focusing on the impact your business has on your local community is something our most successful bookkeepers do.

We also frequently hear the word ‘sustainability’ brought up in our training sessions – both environmentally and economically – and believe changing business practices to address these concerns is a key focus in 2020.


4. How we work is changing


Flexibility is the rising star in HR trends, and we believe it will continue to dominate in 2020. This impacts bookkeepers not only from a business owner point-of-view, but also in understanding how to advise their clients when it comes to hiring staff.

Understanding the impact that rigid expectations of success have on workers’ mental health could see the demise of the 7.5-hour day.

There’s a real trend towards focusing on task-based achievements, rather than watching – and paying by – the clock, as workers try to carve out flexibility within their workplaces.

There’s also an increasing amount of awareness around gender equality in the workplace when it comes to parental leave.

We’re predicting more of a push towards encouraging fathers to take parental leave and adjust their schedules to reflect them being ‘working dads’ (as opposed to the label only applying to ‘working mums’). This could pave the way for more senior roles for women and see more men partaking in the part-time workforce.

Focusing on different ways people can perform their jobs and different ideas surrounding flexibility and remuneration forces employers to innovate what they’re offering to staff. Finding the perfect job is not just about salary anymore; it’s about what other benefits the employer is offering – and flexibility is undoubtedly high on the list for many.

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