Canadian accounting industry falls behind the U.S. when it comes to digital transformation – survey

Canadian accounting and bookkeeping professionals are calling for the industry to embrace advanced technology to help them quickly adapt to the cultural shift in the space.

According to nearly 60 per cent accountants and bookkeepers in Canada, companies have been slow to adapt to the cultural shift in the industry compared to their U.S. counterparts, and nearly 40 per cent say it’s due to the slow emergence of advanced technologies in the country, according to Sage’s fourth annual Practice of Now report

It’s not up to accountants and bookkeepers to make the budgeting decisions or required changes to Canadian banking infrastructure, says Bianca Mueller, bookkeeping tech and automation advisor and the owner of Books by Bianca, in the report. “I believe that if it wasn’t for the Canadian banking systems hindering the electronic movement of monies, Canada would be on pace with the U.S.,” she says. 

The technologies that most accountants believe can bring the highest value to clients are those that are mobile devices, cloud-based services, and artificial intelligence (AI), according to Mueller.

Forty-seven per cent of Canadian accountants and bookkeepers are aware of how the latest technologies can improve efficiencies in their practice, representing an increase of 15 percentage points from last year’s report. This could be an indication that accountants and bookkeepers are self-educating on topics such as cloud-based accounting software, AI, receipt capture technology, and data analytics programs, according to the report. 

Source: Sage

“When it comes to clients, AI is big on all of their lists because they understand it brings accuracy and efficiency. The financial information and reporting I give to them remain the same regardless of the software that they use, so it doesn’t affect the output. They favour AI and automation for its accuracy,” said Mueller.

Twenty-two per cent of the surveyed accounting firms say they are currently investing in and adopting 5G technology, 21 per cent are investing in advanced and predictive analytics leveraging big data, 20 per cent in automation including RPA, and 20 per cent are investing in AI. 

Organizations that are not yet ready to embrace AI commented that they are satisfied with the automation, cloud technologies, and cybersecurity solutions they are currently deploying, the report noted. 

More than ever, Canadian businesses are looking to their accountants and bookkeepers as trusted and strategic partners who need to be agile and well equipped to respond to the rapid changes around them. In fact, the current economic climate has positioned the accounting sector front and centre to increasingly perform a more advisory role to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This year’s report emphasizes the evolving role of the accountant while also highlighting the need for technological investment and training,” said Nancy Tichbon, executive vice-president and managing director, Sage Canada, in a press release. 

The report’s findings also indicate a call to action for standard training and development across the Canadian accounting industry to help accountants and bookkeepers become more informed about the latest solutions. Twenty-six per cent, on the other hand, believe that training on the latest technologies is not necessary for Gen Z or Millennial accountants who are already familiar and skilled in this area.

For this survey, Sage spoke to approximately 3,300 accountants in practice from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Spain, France, Australia, and South Africa. 

 

*Correction:

A previous version of this article said that 47 per cent of Canadian accountants and bookkeepers are aware of how the latest technologies can improve efficiencies in their practice, representing an increase of 15 per cent from last year. In fact, this actually represents an increase of 15 percentage points from last year’s report. IT Business apologizes for the error.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare beautiful, healthy and delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494.

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