Lack of Tech Adoption Still Troubles Accounting Profession, Survey Says

In an online survey of 493 U.S.-based accounting firms, 88% indicated that technology has a positive impact on efficiency and client service, yet 60% described their firm on the lower end of the technology maturity continuum, with “somewhat disconnected software systems, inconsistent processes and the absence of standardized workflows.”

The results come from Rightworks, which today released findings of its inaugural 2024 Accounting Firm Technology Survey, which examined the attitudes and impact of technology adoption across the accounting profession.

The survey said the profession is slow to benefit from modern technologies like AI, collaboration tools and data-driven insights, as 43% of respondents reported less than 75% of their apps and data had been migrated to the cloud.

However, those on the higher end of adoption showed as much as 39% higher revenue per employee. “It is time to wake up the profession and get it out of the cycle of unbearable tax seasons and antiquated ways of doing business,” the study said.

Technology positively impacts workplace efficiency and client services, according to 88% of respondents. The top benefits cited were the ability to support flexible/remote workers and heightened firm and client data security.

“Overall, the accounting profession is optimistic about new technology but is now more than ever at a crossroads as the talent pipeline continues to shrink and client expectations grow,” said Joel Hughes, CEO of Rightworks.

Lack of technology expertise and resources, as well as lack of budget, were cited as the top challenges for nearly half the firms moving to the cloud.

One-third of firms that have moved less than half their data and apps to the cloud reported security as a concern, yet the majority that have moved at least half their data and apps to the cloud report that security and accessibility are top benefits, the study said. “The irony of these concerns seems to confirm the overall lack of education about technology and its benefits. “

AI highlights of the report:

  • Inaccuracy and data privacy in AI were reported as the top concerns among all respondents, and 35% reported they have no plans to incorporate AI.
  • Additional concerns cited were cost, trust and AI replacing jobs. Some stated they’re taking a “wait and see” attitude to AI adoption.
  • For AI to take hold, less progressive firms will have to see significant and rapid ROI before they dive in.

The study concluded that transformation means embracing technology’s potential rather than fearing it. “It is imperative that firms aspiring to be modern firms not only seek education and embrace technology but also intentionally facilitate discussion internally, as well as with their clients. This is the only way to truly lead the profession in the right direction.”


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