As time has passed, humans have evolved. They have found better and efficient ways of doing the same thing over a period of time, be it hunting, commuting, travelling or working.
The credit of the evolution does not only go to great thinkers, physicists, scientists, management gurus, but also to any common person who wants to do things in a better way, gain efficiency, save resources, etc. How could accountants have been left behind?
Historically you would think of an accountant as a serious person who would be too engrossed with a ledger he has immersed his head into, while reconciling, totalling and re-totalling balances, calculating interests and settling due-to’s and due-from’s. He could orally total numbers flowing into pages for hours together. The accountant would have his ways to quickly catch mistakes, (if one has gobbled up a 0 in any number in the totals being made, he would simply check whether the difference is wholly divisible by 9* or use other similar tools). Later the calculator became an essential tool and this skill of performing oral maths became redundant.
These old accountants were replaced by a new set of accountants who knew not just numbers but also commercial laws pertaining to taxes, exchange controls regulations, corporate and allied business laws. They understood the commercial implications of decisions and supported with the compliance of laws.
Most of them were experts at their subjects to the extent that they would with great pride recall case laws after case laws, sections after sections, subsections after subsections and apply them to keep financial and legal problems at bay. Soon came the computers and then Internet and all provisions of laws, cases, opinions, etc., were available at the press of a few keys and therefore the need for learning them by heart diminished. While let’s admit that recalling is better when you have learnt a thing very well.
Then came the new generation of accountants who learnt how to convert all financial information into machine readable language and process information. These accountants knew some basic computer languages, learnt how to work or functionally develop an ERP and were good at Excel.
These wizards used excel macros and other essential tools to simplify and automate financial and reporting processes. Soon thousands of calculations could be done at the snap of a finger using computers. Interfaces were created to capture data at source, process them, integrate them and use it across the group using an ERP. The accountant helped automate their own work thereby focussing their efforts on advance financial planning and analyses which in turn helped the management of their companies take informed decisions.
As more and more information would get captured at source and digitized, complex algorithms would be used to simulate future problems, more companies will resort to big data, cloud computing. New legislations will replace old ones. One may can only try and guess what new skill will accountants would require to meet the challenges of the future. But they will surely adapt, learn and win.