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Future of Accounting?


Accounting Future

“Financial services firms such as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase have contracted out number crunching and financial analysis to Indian MBAs…And throughout India, you’ll find chartered accountants who prepare American tax returns….” p38, A Whole New Mind, hardcover, Daniel Pink.

“In 2003, some 25,000 U.S. tax returns were done in India. In 2004, the number was 100,000. In 2005, it was roughly 400,000…The accounting profession is currently in transformation. Those who get caught in the past and resist change will be forced deeper into commoditization. Those who can create value through leadership, relationships and creativity will transform the industry, as well as strengthen relationships with their existing clients..” p 15, The World is Flat, paperback, Thomas Friedman.

“Among white-collar workers, the losers will be those involved in middleman work taking inventory and “bean counting”. This means low-level agents, brokers, tellers, accountants, etc., will be increasingly thrown out of work as their jobs disappear…” p283, Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100, e-book, Michio Kaku.

Do art…to paraphrase Seth Godin in Lynchpin.

“It’s compelling” says owner of a third party real estate management/investment/development firm on topic of offshoring finance to India.

There’s been a drumbeat of books and articles about how finance and accounting jobs are either being offshored, outsourced or automated. A couple of weeks ago I read an article about CFOs who were planning on outsourcing FP&A in 2014. But most financial and accounting types that I talk to seem to be oblivious to the underlying trends. They act like it can’t happen here because India/Mexico/or wherever cannot do the job.

They are right…up to a point…right now the skill level is not there but with time…

In the books, the antidote given was to be creative or do “art”. Problem is, accountants and finance types (less so) are not trained to be creative. Really, do we want creative accounting? The Andrew Fastow kind of Enron infamy? Or how about all of those wonderful financiers in the mortgage lending debacle prior to the 2008 implosion?  We have to be careful about asking for creative.

These books talk about doing “art” or being a “designer”. Unfortunately, I imagine there are a lot of poor artists…you know, the starving artists. I think what is left unsaid here is the number of folks who are in the creative field barely getting by, due to supply being greater than demand. Also, I see a bifurcation in today’s world: you are either a superstar or you are not (and therefore at poverty level). Think of musicians or actors. Actors who are not stars are bussing tables waiting for their big break. I imagine musicians are also working second jobs too.

I don’t have the answer on what to do.

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