SaaS Brief

Three Ways to Maximize Your Human Capital Investment via Accounting Automation

Financial Service Human Capital

Like so many industries, the great resignation has had an impact on financial services organizations. Skilled financial services employees are moving into new roles at an unprecedented pace thanks to the availability of more employment options and opportunities than ever before.

But that’s not all: a shifting, generational workforce is ushering in its own unique set of job requirements. These younger, more tech-savvy professionals are more apt to embrace new technology — in some cases, they even demand it. And they’re significantly less likely to tolerate repetitive, unchallenging, or uninspiring work.

The disruption this perfect storm is creating can abruptly stall any corporate growth plans. It’s why Kevin Cumley, director of the Sage Intacct Accountants Program (SIAP) and one of Accounting Today’s top 100 Most Influential People in 2021, says “talent and staffing is the single biggest issue right now.” It’s why virtually every industry event we’ve attended over the past six months has included talent and staffing as a key topic for discussion.

During a recent webcast hosted by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) — a worldwide association of accountants and financial professionals — we asked more than 1,600 webcast attendees this question about the labor market via a live poll: “How are staffing shortages affecting your team?”

Three key findings from the responses jumped out at us:

  1. Dealing with “staffing shortages” is indeed the top challenge accounting teams face in 2022.
  2. Trying to overcome the talent shortage is a time-intensive endeavor (42% stated they now spend more time on hiring-related tasks).
  3. Offering remote work is an important way firms are attempting to attract talent (28% noted they’re hiring more remote employees).

How Accounting Technology Can Help Attract and Retain Employees

It’s clear retaining talented accounting employees — keeping your “human capital” — has never been more important than it is right now. Yet too many firms still struggle to attract then retain talented accounting employees.

Fortunately, accounting automation technology can help.

It is, of course, an important and efficient way to make staff more productive. But the right accounting automation technology can do so much more than that. It can transform your finance team members’ jobs from ones focused on crunching numbers and reconciling spreadsheet data to ones that are stimulating — perhaps even lessening their urge to reply to the latest LinkedIn inquiry from a recruiter.

It’s the kind of massive business impact that leads many industry pundits to predict that accounting departments will use technology to automate anything and everything they can in 2022 and beyond (our poll respondents agreed, with 26% indicating they’re investing in automation technology to stretch resources and “do more with less,” and 18% saying they’re deploying new technology to attract and retain talent).

Recent research that Sage Intacct co-sponsored with FSN The Modern Finance Forum found that firms have accelerated their acceptance of new technologies including AI and ML. In fact, 65% of the finance executives surveyed believe that AI and ML will mature over the remainder of this decade and become more commonplace.

So, what’s the best way to use accounting automation to maximize your human capital investment? Here’s what we recommend:

1. Use automation to make the most of your current accounting staff.

First, keep your current staff engaged, happy, and productive by automating the mundane, routine, Excel-based transactional recording and data reconciliation that takes up so much of their time.

Automation around allocations and consolidations, for instance, can accelerate their time-intensive manual tasks and ensure they can close the books in an efficient manner, freeing them to take on more strategic work — and enabling the entire team to accomplish more work, more quickly and more accurately.

2. Use automation to make your business more attractive to new accounting hires.

Skilled workers are seeking an environment where they see demonstrable signs the firm is committed to investing in the right tools to help them succeed. By creating a more modern and tech-enabled environment, you’ll make your roles more attractive to potential new hires than other opportunities they might be pursuing.

Given the vast amount of data now being generated, manual manipulation in finance is becoming less and less feasible.   As an alternative, AI and ML will drive predictive analytics and start to aid the budgeting, forecasting and planning processes.

3. Use automation to ensure and improve accounting accuracy.

Automation can help ensure accuracy for everyday projects as well as efforts that may not be as fully staffed now as they were before. Intelligent general ledgers and error/anomaly detection tools, for instance, can automatically eliminate inaccuracies and automate consolidations.

As the human capital crunch continues, forward-looking financial services firms will continue to ramp up their use of technology as a differentiator in the pursuit of finding and retaining qualified talent. Some will use it to automate standard processes; others will use it to give employees opportunities to learn new software and analytics skills.

But the firms that successfully attract and retain the most happy, motivated team members will do both.

 

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