By Damon Anderson, director of partner at Xero

Accountants have used the trusty ledger to service their clients since even before the 13th century. But the birth of the cloud has turned accountancy on its head, putting the ledger to rest and making life far simpler for the business owner. In the cloud, businesses are better connected, data can be accessed 24/7, credits and debits are digitally recorded and information travels faster between buyer, business and bank.

Layers of time-intensive admin have been removed for small businesses and their advisors. So it’s no surprise that according to our new Digital or Die report, 83 percent of accountants believe they need to understand technology just as well as they understand accountancy. Yet change can be overwhelming – almost half now worry about being left behind, which is twice as many as last year.

Evolution is hard to hide from

The pace of new technology development is relentless, and it’s hard to avoid. Even HMRC is planning to ‘make tax digital’ by 2020. But it seems not everyone is keeping up – one-in-four accountants we surveyed admitted that they weren’t aware MTD is on the horizon.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Accountants are recognising the need to move with the times. ” hashtags=”Cloud, Futurism”]

Despite the nervousness, accountants are recognising the need to move with the times. Almost half of advisors (45%) we asked believe that practices need to go digital to survive. They understand the competitive advantage technology can give them, and tax practices are seeing the potential of streamlining their processes in order to be more profitable. With benefits including lowered cost of business, new revenue streams and keeping up with market expectations, the opportunities that going digital can bring are vast.

Learning on the job

Accountancy, though, is an industry ready to adapt. Accountants and bookkeepers are making the effort to learn as the pressure builds to stay relevant. Half of accountants are learning about new technologies at their workplace, and a quarter are enrolled in offsite courses. This is in spite of three-in-10 saying they don’t think there is enough educational support when it comes to learning about digital tools.

We’ve commissioned a unique portrait to depict changing times in the industry. Since Luca Pacioli – Father of Accounting – debuted his innovation, the general ledger has been a faithful servant, but the next revolution has arrived. The digital renaissance is here.

To explore our findings in detail and discover further insights, download the report here.