As the landscape of business continues to evolve, now is more important than ever to ensureour skillset evolves with it. Upskilling allows us to better leverage the advances of today foroperational effectiveness and efficiency. Furthermore, it allows us to practice change management for what tomorrow may bring from a regulatory and accounting standard perspective. With the advent of online courses, upskilling is easier than ever and can be donefrom the convenience of one’s home. Whether you’re going for CPE credits or just looking to learn more, growing as a professional brings that many more opportunities for you and clients.
Learning New Skills in Accounting
There are many reasons to grow one’s skill set. New technologies emerge almost regularly that create opportunities for enterprises large and small. With the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies came a new potentially disruptive technology, Blockchain. As Blockchain entails an immutable ledger, its potential for simplifying record keeping and even auditing isvast. A running list of transactions is maintained on the chain, providing a great evidentiary trail.
Data Analytics in Accounting
Data Analytics and Visualization, as well as Business Intelligence tools bring with them the ability to gain a degree of insight over populations of data too large to be analyzed within Excel alone. Dashboards can be created pulling data from many sources, including spreadsheets and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems on the back-end. Power BI is one such platform, a Microsoft proprietary platform that integrates well with other MS Office offerings. It can create in minutes what may take much longer in Excel regarding charts and other graphic representations of data. Tableau is another such tool: a non-Microsoft one that, while costlier, can access data from an even greater variety of sources and quantities. Alteryx can read in and transform or visualize data from a multitude of sources before sending it in a desired output forthe end user. Google Cloud even has its own business intelligence offering, Looker. With somuch data being generated by enterprises in the twenty-first century, learning to use these tools can be an excellent way for an aspiring accountant to stand out and create value for their firm as well as clientele. Each of these tools have great resources on their websites for those looking to hone their knowledge of each tool and we offer training on data analytics, dashboards, and more!
Robot Process Automation in Accounting
Robot Process Automation (RPA) brings with it a host of efficiencies to be gained. Individuals looking to streamline highly manual reporting processes benefit from leveraging RPA. RPA looks at how the user enters data and performs tasks within their own Guided User Interface(GUI), then uses artificial intelligence to create a “digital worker” that performs these tasks separately. A major shift in industry is away from time-consuming data entry tasks and a movetowards using that data to drive decision-making. RPA simplifies data entry to free up more capacity for internal decision making and further analysis over an enterprise’s population of data. Clerical accounting work, including Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable work, isincreasingly being shifted to “digital workers” and connections directly to data sources for automated feeds. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) continue to emerge via platforms such as UIPath for those looking to harness the power of automation for their firm and truly gain an edge over both their own operations and competition that’s still relying on highly manual data entry.
Programming for Accountants
A highly technical and increasingly important skill to add to the accountant’s repertoireis a basic knowledge of programming. Several languages are particularly relevant to those in analytical roles. Visual Basic for Applications (VBAs) is used to create Macros in Microsoft Excel that bring about time savings for those seeking to minimize manual data entry in the software. Structured Query Language (SQL) is an excellent language to learn for those that interact with data in a table format, as it allows individuals to query for data that satisfies certain parameters. R is a statistical programming language great for doing trend analysis over large populations of data. Python is an excellent beginner programming language with a myriad of packages that make it valuable for financial modeling. Wisdify is proud to offer several courses on these languages as programming transitions from a nice-to-know to a must.
New Accounting Regulations
Beyond technology, new regulations pose compliance challenges for clients as well as incentives to engage in certain economic activities spurred by the government. New tax legislation brings new regulatory intake for businesses. Accountants looking to grow in their career, even ones not in tax, benefit from being in the loop on these. Being proactive, rather than reactive, makes onboarding new compliance obligations easier for firms.
For example, the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) became the most significant piece of tax reform in a generation. Many deductions were modified or added, including the Qualified Business Income deduction. Other deductions were modified and even expanded for businesses, such as the Section 179 deduction for certain types of assets placed into service.
Another major piece of legislation, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, is important to know for those with clients in a financial advisory or wealth management capacity. Retirement planning is an excellent value-add for accountants that seek to go a step further than meeting the goals of the business: helping its owners meet theirs. As Congress continues to draft new legislation in an aging population, keeping abreast of new retirement laws can put clients minds at ease, as well as show you are a resource.
Even legislation that is not strictly related to new tax and compliance requirements can be valuable for those looking to upskill. Major bills that can cause economic growth and shifts are wise to stay in-the-know on. As of August 2022, Congress is currently taking a look at the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. In addition to reducing inflation, the bill aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, a feat it intends to accomplish partly through green energy tax credits. Climate change is not only impacting the natural environment business operates in; its impacting the political-economic as well.
New Accounting Standard Codifications (ASCs) from the Financial Accounting Standards Board evolve our approach to financial accounting. An example of a significant new standard passed in recent years was ASC 606, which pertains to revenue recognition. This new guidance is so impactful that some employers even expressly seek accountants specializing in it.
Why Accountants Need to Upskill
Upskilling can be interpersonal as well as technical. For those looking to engage in business development, there are online workshops to help entrepreneurial individuals land clients that are going to contribute to the long-term success of their firm. Interaction with employees and clients is important for individuals working in collaborative environments. Stress management courses, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent international tensions, can be vital for professionals seeking to preserve their mental health.
Upskilling isn’t just a way to grow as a professional; it can be one to maintain CPA licensure. CPE requirements vary by state but necessitate us honing our knowledge through approved providers. If you are required to complete CPEs, why not use it as an opportunity to upskill as an accountant? Wisdify offers a variety of courses & bootcamps, designed to help accountants grow their skill sets in such a manner that it also meets the rigorous standards required to qualify for CPE. Whether it’s financial modeling, new technology, or new legislation, there are many ways to hone your skills as well as meet the requirements of maintaining your distinction as a CPA. Start your upskilling journey with us TODAY!