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Accountants are the future
The accountant profession is changing. The accountant of the future is another profession than that of 10 years ago. Pieter Jongstra RA, chairman of the Royal Dutch Institute of Chartered Accountants (NBA), sees mostly opportunities for the profession.
IT creates change
The fact that the accounting profession is changing will come to no surprise. But why is it changing? According to Pieter Jongstra developments in the IT are the major cause: “Automatic systems are of great importance to our work. These systems develop lightning-fast. The time that the entrepreneur came to his accountant with a shoebox full of receipts is over. Figures come into being differently now than in the past and the auditor is no longer the only that deals with this. Blockchain-technology can change the whole payment system. I see these developments as an opportunity. The more information you have, the better you can look for the story behind the numbers. And the better you can do your job as an accountant. ”
Some pessimists fear that some of the accounting work is taken over by IT professionals. Pieter Jongstra does not share that fear. “Do not underestimate how much knowledge accountants have! Not only about administrative systems, but also about legislations for example. This is knowledge that IT professionals lack. Moreover, it is increasingly important for companies to comply with all regulations. Therefore, they still keep coming back to the auditor. I also have the distinct impression that there´s a growing need for assurance. Therefore, the auditor there may have opportunities to add assurance to new areas. For instance, consider the annual financial report. At present, the auditor doesn´t expresses its opinion on the management report, only on the financial responsibility. In that area, the auditor could broaden itself. ”
“With the adjustments that we do now, the profession is ready for the future!”
An improved education
What does the NBA do to prepare the profession for the future? The Institute manages the register of chartered accountants, represents the interests of the professional group, maintains the quality and is involved with regulation. But the main task is probably the education of new auditors. In that area, we can expect the greatest changes. IT is given an important role and there are different graduation profiles.
“All auditors are working toward the same goal,” said the NBA chairman, “namely a better quality of financial reporting. But our roles can be quite different. One works as an internal auditor, the other as auditor, consultant or controller. We adjust the education accordingly. There will be three versions of the title, specializations, as it were: assurance, finance and SMEs. So you are better prepared for the practice. In the past, if you wanted work in the business sector, you first had to gain years of experience in public accountancy. Now you get all the right knowledge during the course of the training. This does mean that you have to choose earlier. Do you want to become a financial advisor or SME director, or do you prefer to work as a controller?”
Accountants are not known as the most innovative profession. But that is not necessary, according to Pieter Jongstra. “The accounting profession exists in our country for about 130 years. In all that time accountants have always adapted.
When I started as an accountant, I worked with pencil. With the advent of the first computers I was overjoyed. They saved me a lot of time I could devote to the quality of my work. Auditors will also adapt to these changes. We may not be the most innovative profession, we are excellent followers.
With the adjustments that we do now, the profession is ready for the future! “