Accountants have been relying on Microsoft Excel since the 1980s, so you could say innovation in accounting is slow going. It turns out, there are several barriers to innovation that are specific to the accounting and financial services industry. What are they, and what can we do to squash them?
Jody Padar writes on AccountingToday that innovation isn’t typically in accounting’s nature. While accountants are good at mimicking innovation, it often doesn’t stick. Here are some of the top barriers that are keeping innovation in accounting slow.
Organizational barriers. Accountants and accounting departments often trip up here. We get stuck in a routine that works–for a while–until it becomes a rut. Microsoft Excel is a great example of this. Its usefulness has long since expired, yet many of us continue to cling to it, maybe because of familiarity, or maybe “because we always have.”
Cultural barriers. Accountants by trade tend to be risk averse, but many accountants are (incorrectly) touting themselves as innovative. One of the main tenets of a successful accountant is to be able to analyze what has occurred in the past. Predicting the future? Less easy. Being an innovator requires taking risks, which often lead to missteps. A culture where you can make a mistake, pick yourself up, and try again is a necessity.
Regulatory barriers. Being mindful of regulatory measures and compliance means the opportunity to be creative and innovative can sometimes be non-existent. Much of an accountant’s job is spent understanding and working within the constraints of regulatory updates, so how can we find the time to innovate?
Technological barriers. Cloud software is a boon for the industry, yet many accountants are reluctant. Trading in clunky software for something sleek that automates and takes the guesswork out can feel like a threat, or it can feel too good to be true. Embracing advancing technology will keep you relevant in an industry that desperately needs to remain relevant.
Market barriers. Following the market keeps you safe, not innovative. Again, risk comes into the equation here. Innovating is about advancing beyond the status quo. To be an innovative leader, you need to suss out what’s limping along and then revise it.
Updating your software, improving your communication, enhancing your processes, and updating your pricing structure are all necessary to innovate. And, Padar suggests that a willingness to be agile is critical as well. By applying a goal of agility, you’re setting yourself up for consistent improvement, which keeps you relevant. It’s a chain reaction.
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