Redefining “accountant”

By April 17, 2019June 13th, 2019No Comments

The definition of “accountant” needs to change. Here’s why.


What do you do when you want to change the definition of your job?
For starters, you might try petitioning one of the biggest dictionaries in the world. That’s what accounting software provider Xero did, anyway.
“We at Xero are writing to request you Oxford English Dictionary change the definition of the word ‘accountant’ in your dictionary to what we believe it truly reflects,” writes co-founder and managing director Gary Turner.
Right now, the definition goes like this: “A person whose job is to keep or inspect financial accounts.” That limits the role of accountant to a number-cruncher, when in reality it’s so much more, the petition reads.
What’s missing, exactly? The idea that accountants play an important role in helping businesses grow, become more efficient, reduce costs and increase productivity.
Yes, we’re financial experts. But more importantly, we’re also trusted business advisors.  


What accounting means in 2019

In many ways, the future of accounting is here. Cloud-based platforms make it possible to track financial performance in real-time. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to glean insights and forecast future performance with the click of a mouse (or a tap on a screen).
As we start automating everyday tasks and processes, accountants can shift their focus from reporting the numbers to telling the stories behind those numbers.
The result? Business owners can and should expect more from us than a tax return and financial statements. For example, you’ll see accountants getting involved in:
  • Metrics: pinpointing the data you need to track to gauge the health of your business and make better decisions in the future.
  • Business modelling: knowledge of organizational structures, sources of funding and emerging trends.
  • Tech advice: guidance on what apps to connect, which workflows to set up, which tasks to automate and which solutions work best for specific business types.   
  • Forecasting: providing forward-looking advice on financial and non-financial performance.
  • Strategy: developing a broad view of the business and where it’s headed.
  • Communication: explaining and presenting insights to stakeholders at every level.
No longer do we look at the past and present; now we look forward to the future. No longer do we sit squarely in finance; now we make a real impact on all parts of a business.
“The changing business world offers opportunity for CPAs to fulfill their roles as strategic leaders, in addition to being experts in finance and accounting,” says Tashia Batstone, senior vice-president of external relations and business development at CPA Canada.
And businesses are embracing that change.
Accountants are the most common source of business advice for small- and medium-sized businesses, according to a report from the International Federation of Accountants. They even outpace consultants, bankers and lawyers.
Plus, businesses say they value that advice (41%) higher than they do number crunching skills (34%), Xero says in their petition.


A new definition

So what should that new definition of “accountant” say? According to Xero, something along the line of, “A person whose job is to keep or inspect and advise on financial accounts.”
The key change: adding the word “advise.”
If your accountant doesn’t provide that level of service to you, it’s time for a change. Last millennium’s practices just won’t cut it in a world where businesses – and the technology they use – move and grow fast.
We’re the new breed of accountant. We’re leaders, advisors and storytellers. And we’re ready to stand with you as your business grows, every step of the way.
Want to learn more about what a strong accounting partner can do for your business? Get in touch with us today and we’ll be glad to show you.

About Element CPA

Element CPA is an innovative accounting partner that’s 100% focused on helping Canadian startups and small businesses get their books in order, operate more efficiently and plan for the future. We handle the day-to-day financial operations that make your business run, tell the story behind your numbers and provide advice as you grow.