The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Tech Savvy Accountants

ACCA_Tech Savvy

The 2016 WEF in Davos sees leaders from across the world gathering to discuss pertinent issue that will shape the economic structure of the world. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, referring to the advent of economy-changing technologies. Technology is changing the way business is conducted, one of the industries that has and will continue to change its methods of doing is the accountancy industry. There is a huge demand for tech-savvy accountants. Wesley Rashid explains the importance of technology for the modern accountant and how it can benefit both the profession and clients.

Why is it important for a modern accountant to be technologically aware and capable?

Love it or hate it, technology is ever changing and accountants are now expected to stay up to date with these advances in order to keep their clients happy. The ones that are capable are the ones that stay connected with their clients and adopt a proactive approach, the ones that stay retrospective – well, its time to pack up your calculator and pen.

How do you increase your technological competency?

I’m presuming most students are of the millennial generation, those who are used to using tech every day. Increase your competency by getting out there and attending meet ups, using social channels and surfing the web – there’s lots of information to digest online, even on Facebook and Twitter.

What specific doors can being tech savvy open for an accountant?

Technology makes accountancy practices as user-friendly for staff and clients as possible, reducing fixed costs in running the practice and a need for clients to see them as tech-friendly. So there are lots of opportunities for the tech-savvy accountant. Look at us – accountants for tech start ups using tech to offer real time financial analysis and support for tech start ups so they can make quick decisions and grow faster. This has a massive impact on client satisfaction.

Where and how do you see technology changing the accounting profession?

Accountants and tax professionals will become advisers and software specialists. Focus is on cloud and harnessing good data to provide clients with sound advice, and automate processes – thus giving you more time to add value to the client’s bottom line.

Is technology making accounting/accountants more innovative or the other way round?

Yes, the ability of using the right tech tools will create profitability for both the firm and the client. Drilling down to data, automating processes such as auto-population of tax and VAT returns and collaboration by use of cloud accounting packages can speed things up and leave the accountant open to spending time on what they do best.


Crowdfunding for CFOs


The business world has a different face than it did years ago, more and more companies are working at recognising and cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit in the employees they employ.

ACCA’s report, Culture and Channelling Corporate Behaviour, suggests that individuals are loyal to the following three factors: mastery of one’s subject, autonomy and psychological relatedness of their values. The latter is evident in that a lot of employees are not satisfied in just doing their day-to-day jobs but they desire to serve their community by relating they job activities with the needs in society. “The entrepreneurial approach” has found fame in the corridors of business and more and more employees and businesses are enjoying the benefits of this approach.

CFOs and their team leaders that aim to cultivate this spirit in their employees are often faced with the challenge of financing projects proposed by employees. Crowdfunding is one of the ways that SMEs around the globe are financing their projects. Crowd funding can be used by CFOs that do not have the budget to finance all the projects employees desire to engage in.

Crowdfunding is by definition, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” This is not a new phenomenon, the only difference is that it is now web-based and the pool for investors is much greater than before when one had to approach individuals they hoped would invest in their cause.

How does it work? There are web-based platforms that CFOs can go to or direct their employees. Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Onevest are some of the well-known ones globally that project creators utilise; in South Africa the phenomenon is still at its young stages, but there are platforms that have been established to cater for this need:,,, Project creators can create a profile typically containing a short video, an introduction to their project, a list of rewards per donation, and some images to elaborate. The idea is to create a compelling message that readers will be drawn towards.

Crowdfunding offers a lot of benefits to employees that seek to integrate their passion into their work and also to CFOs that want to avoid some risks associated with funding projects proposed by employees. Forbes presents the following as benefits of crowd funding:

  • It provides access to capital
  • It hedges risk
  • It serves as a marketing tool
  • It gives proof of concept
  • It allows crowd sourcing of brainstorming
  • It introduces prospective loyal customers
  • It’s easier than traditional applications
  • It’s free PR
  • It provides the opportunity of pre-selling

It is free

The Finance of Balancing Leadership


The dawn of the digital age has given rise to an important skillset requirement, which effectively provides CFO’s with the ability to master the art of financial leadership. This skillset can only be learnt from gaining industry experience, interaction with industry associations and networking with others that share the same vision. Further it is up to educational institutes, organisations and mentors to identify and aid the #CFO transition to becoming an effective financial leader.


At the recently held #CFO South Africa roundtable (, participants agreed that in order to succeed in the field of finance an awareness of leadership skills required, is vital. Further a keen understanding of the industry and an acknowledgment that the industry is shifting will assist in mastering the art of financial leadership. The participants further believe that the CFO’s focus is shifting from traditional bean counting practises to business success through leadership strategies.


 “The art of balancing financial leadership comes to play when CFO’s have to maintain industry compliancy levels, whilst pushing the bar on financial targets and corporate bottom-line.” – Karen Smal, ACCA South Africa


Strategy, strategy, strategy


#ACCA recently released a research paper titled Financial Leadership with the single point of main importance as the ability to incorporate your financial strategy into a workable implementation plan. The art of financial leadership is to gain vision, and to anticipate the human factor in every instance within your financial strategy. The skill to lead others and to take leadership to task will draw a clear path to financial and social success. The research paper further reveals that there are distinctive steps that would need to be taken in order to achieve the balancing of financial leadership. These steps along and the balance of the research paper, can be viewed online at the ACCA South African web page;


Halla Tomasdottir, ( a financial leader in Iceland, who was instrumental in re-building Iceland’s economy since the collapse in 2008, has attributed the following key markers  to attaining and retaining financial balance, they are; Risk Awareness, Straight Talking, Emotional Capital and Profit with Principals. These same markers were discussed at the round table, a point to the concept of globalisation, not only in industry but in financial leadership. South Africans tend to act in isolation, however the point raised at the round table can easily be adapted and integrated into any global strategy. Many of the CFO’s attending the round table have mandates beyond the borders. The concept of a #globalCFO is becoming a reality as many CFO’s share a single vision; gaining business success through balanced financial leadership.



There is an abundance of #financialtechnology globally that can assist CFO’s in the South African market. If the consensus amongst industry leaders is that the focus is shifting towards leadership opposed to traditional bean counting, then adapting global technology will become ever important. CFO’s would need to develop a strong technological support base alongside an implementation plan which will then allow for the #CFO to focus on balancing financial leadership.


ACCA South Africa