90% of CPAs say technology is a major barrier

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Of more than 130 Chartered Accountants (CPA) surveyed by the New Jersey CPA Society (NJCPA) in November, 88% said they were very or somewhat aware of new technologies, but just over 60% struggled to learn how to use existing technologies in their organization. With advancements in technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, the NJCPA conducted the survey, which was sponsored by OWG, NJCPA technology partner and IT integrator, to better understand how accounting professionals view technology and the challenges they face.

Among the technological challenges faced, in addition to trying to learn existing technologies, respondents next ranked identifying new technologies to consider implementing as a challenge, followed by cybersecurity and privacy issues.

A variety of technologies are used by respondents, which includes everything from software related to tax, accounting and time tracking to virtual communications platforms. Tax, auditing and accounting software are the most widely used, followed by virtual platforms (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams), remote offices, client portals and paperless/e-signature tools. Almost half of those surveyed said they were just as effective when working remotely as when working in the office, although 38% thought they were less effective and 15% thought they were more effective .

Respondents had mixed feelings about software platforms when considering their use of tax software, but were more in tune when it came to accounting and practice management platforms. More than 85% use Quickbooks for their internal accounting platforms and 12% use Lacerte. For those using practice management platforms, 26% indicated they preferred CCH ProSystem fx. ProSystem fx Tax and ProSeries Tax were also used by respondents at 20% each, followed by UltraTax CS and Lacerte Tax at 19 and 18%, respectively.

More than 50% of those surveyed said they are willing to invest early and often in technology, given that it is a revenue generator. However, more than 30% said they do not have an IT budget. The majority of respondents (73%) use an external IT consultant or IT services company for their technology needs. Of those with an in-house IT department, 39% said they have fewer than five IT-focused employees, while 20% have more than 11 dedicated IT employees.

When analyzing the overall risk in their organizations, more than half of respondents indicated that their company had carried out a risk assessment, compared to 35% who had not done so and 13% who did not know if an assessment had been carried out .

“Few professions have seen such significant growth as accounting, and technology has played a significant role in that,” said Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, CEO and Executive Director of NJCPA. “Our survey underscores the importance of technology to the accounting profession and what may be holding some back from using it more.”

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