The Calxa Team recently took part in the ABN (Australian Bookkeeping Network) session during the Network in Paradise Conference in Far North Queensland. Peter Thorp’s ‘Time Capsule’ presentation was lively and certainly got the discussion going. It afforded participants a look back when ABN was founded and professional bookkeeping took an upturn. The audience was then forced to cast their view forward 10 years and imagine what the industry will look like. If nothing else, the session highlighted that change is needed to survive into the future. What’s more; it’s time to take advantage of the opportunities.
Some of us had to think harder than others, but Calxa co-founder, Alex Lewis, recalls clearly receiving a call “back in them days” from no other than Leanne Lewis. Alex reminiscences, “I can’t believe it’s been nearly 15 years, I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I was thinking this is too good to be true – an organisation like ABN just there to help me and my bookkeeping practice?” “To put this in perspective, this was on the back of the introduction of GST, bookkeepers were only just starting to be seen as a force to be reckoned with. Accountants no longer looked down on the junior in the industry but started to acknowledge the vital contribution a good ‘Bookie’ could bring to the table.”
ABN has since evolved into a flourishing community of bookkeepers, meeting at Coffee Clubs, keeping up to date with legislation and sharing knowledge whilst growing their businesses.
It’s interesting reading the outcome of this analysis. Here are some key points the ‘Time Capsule’ survey told us.
Interestingly more men are entering the bookkeeping industry. This is underpinned by a younger professional entering the scene. The dominant age remains the 40-49 year bracket, so experience is still driving the industry standards.
Although 42% stated they have lost work to accountants this year, the overall mood is optimistic for the future of the industry.
Change in the Industry
87% agreed that cloud accounting is the solution for the future. When asked their personal opinion on who will be holding the market share in 10 years from now; MYOB was returned as the leader at 44% followed by Xero at 32, with a belief that the other players will share the remainder.
The Future Bookkeeper
The picture painted sees a professional working remotely, on-site work will be off the table and paperless offices the norm. There will be a consolidation of smaller businesses migrating to larger practices seeking automation and more effective systems. Data entry is out and no longer providing the bread and butter of main income streams. The traditionally mature and female bookkeeper is replaced by a younger professional with men represented in increasing numbers.
Income streams will be changed to include income tax, virtual CFO work, publishing, budgeting and cashflow projections as well as management reporting. Specialist services like debtor management, training and payroll will form part of the package.
The greatest challenges were seen in time management and keeping up to date.
Whilst the exercise was completed with a light-hearted approach, it still signals some key changes to the industry. Foremost, it signals that change is on the horizon and preparation for the future are to be considered. Thus begging the question: “Where are you going to fit in this new world?”
At Calxa we have long seen a shift to alternative income streams with an increased uptake of bookkeeping clients. Our article ‘Is Automation Killing Bookkeepers?’ resonated with the industry particularly with those having a desire to provide management reporting services. The software provides a great tool to make automation happen; taking out the hard work and making it an easy solution for those professionals seeking change.
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