Financial technology has reshaped the entire finance sector over the past several decades. Software programs make the responsibilities of a financial professional easier to manage but they also shrink and change them.
So, what is the overall impact? Is Fintech for accountants? Bad? A little bit of both? It wasn’t so long ago that people thought it might replace accountants entirely.
In this article, we look at the broad scope and impact of financial technology, and how it impacts accounting careers.
What is Fintech?
Fintech refers to financial technology. Software that automates and enhances an accountant’s ability to do their work. The software industry really enjoys its abbreviations. And why not? The main purpose of business technology is often to save time. Why throw all that away by wasting some of it fully pronouncing words?
The Fintech industry has grown enormously during the last couple of decades. All of the technologies and benefits we will describe below currently exist in the world right now. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are widely adopted. Remember, the software requires money, the time to learn it, and the time it takes to integrate it into your routine.
For that reason, Fintech, like so many other technologies, often remains on the shelf, even for businesses that have technically undergone their “technological transformations,” or techtrans as the software folks might start calling it any day now.
Below, we highlight what Fintech can do. Perhaps in doing so, we also make a case for why it should come off the proverbial shelf.
Omnichannel Customer Communications
Omnichannel communications hubs allow customers to reach out to their accountants through multiple ways, all from one location. This means they might be able to call, text, email, instant message, or skype, all from one convenient hub.
This feature is good for the customer because it makes their accountant considerably more accessible. It’s also good for the accountant, as it can make it considerably easier to handle incoming requests. Calls can be handled on a more urgent basis. IMs can be delegated. Emails can be answered over lunch, and so on.
In short, omnichannels allow people to interact and engage with one another in the way that is most comfortable for them.
Customer Service Chatbots
Fintech also allows accounting firms to entirely automate some of their customer communications. Chatbots are mildly irritating, and usually, several large steps removed from delivering the quality level of service achieved by a human.
Nevertheless, around sixty percent of people prefer to avoid interacting with a human to handle business questions if they can help it. For the customer, they can get fast help the way they want it.
For the accountants, they have more time to work responding to customer requests. Instead of getting fifty calls a day, they might have twenty-five chatbot requests, eight emails, seven IMs, and ten phone calls that they can now comfortably devote more attention to.
Oh boy. Blockchain information never quite matches the pace of say, a Stephen King novel. We won’t get into the nitty gritty — that’s an article or three in its own right. We will, however, emphasize that blockchain has had a significant impact on the financial sector.
Through encrypted transactions, it’s easy to move money around quickly and safely. Here’s the rub: blockchain often goes hand in hand with crypto. It’s crypto-supported and often used to make transactions of that variety.
Anyone who has paid even the smallest amount of attention to the crypto industry knows that it’s convoluted and volatile. Value can shoot up enormously, or plummet just as fast, often with little to no warning.
Hey, it’s not necessarily an accountant’s job to judge right? Crypto is here for better and for worse, and anyone working in the financial sector should keep an or two on it.
Automation of Financial Advice
Uh-oh. Financial advice is what accounts provide. Are the machines coming for their jobs? Actually, it’s long been discussed that they might be. Several decades ago when the shadowy semblance of modern Fintec was first springing into existence, it wasn’t uncommon for bold analysts to suggest that accounting as a profession might not exist in the near future.
Of course, we know that accountants still exist, and there is no serious indication that they won’t anytime soon. It’s true that much of the legwork can now be automated or expedited through software. The days of pencils, calculators, and ledgers are — if not gone, certainly quite antiquated.
Accountants continue to exist for a number of reasons. One of them is that the tech probably isn’t quite where it would need to be to automate accounting as a profession away forever. The other thing is that accountants provide a human element to something that is at once weirdly clinical and unambiguously emotional. Money.
Financial automated services often work cooperatively with human accountants. Think of a chatbot on steroids. These services allow people to get most of their questions answered quickly through an automated program. The rest are kicked up to a professional accountant, who provides their human touch and insight.
Again, it’s a question of saving time and providing better services.
Finally, it’s key to note that modern software provides financial professionals with an enormous amount of data. This information can be distilled into easily translatable graphs and spreadsheets that then help accountants, financial advisors, and other financial professionals easily interpret them.
It does take a little bit of know-how to successfully navigate modern financial data. However, using this information, finance professionals can provide their customers with a more bespoke and impactful experience. There are no sure things, of course, even with very good financial forecasting. Still, data is a great way to use the past to look more clearly at the future. A skill that everyone in finance needs to have on their belt.
For Better or Worse, it’s Here
The genie never goes back in its bottle. When a technology is introduced it will flourish as long as it’s good enough. Fintech is here, and it’s changing the way finance professionals do their jobs. Sometimes these changes are for the better, other times, maybe not.
In all cases, fintech is an inevitable component of modern work in the finance industry.