10 Finance and Accounting Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2024

What does 2024 have in store for the finance and accounting fields? As a leader, staying ahead of the curve is essential for your firm’s or department’s growth and stability. In this post, we’ll unpack 10 trends in finance and accounting, offering tips and insights to help you tackle new challenges, make smarter decisions and confidently steer your team through the year ahead.

1. Digital and AI technologies will continue to rise

Digitalization and AI are redefining how financial tasks are handled, introducing unprecedented efficiency and depth. AI-driven software, for instance, automates intricate tasks like tax preparation and auditing, minimizes human error, and liberates accountants to engage in more strategic, consultative roles. Tools such as predictive analytics empower professionals to dissect vast amounts of financial data, offer predictions about market trends and help businesses make savvy financial decisions. Meanwhile, blockchain technology is revolutionizing how transactions are recorded and verified, offering high precision and integrity in financial reporting.For finance and accounting firms, it’s not just about jumping on the tech bandwagon. It’s about genuinely embracing these changes and empowering your teams to use these technologies to their fullest potential.

2. FP&A roles take center stage

The demand for Financial Planning and Analysis professionals is escalating as businesses recognize the value of strategic financial planning while navigating uncertain economic conditions. The Salary Guide From Robert Half finds that 48% of managers are willing to increase salaries for professionals skilled in financial reporting. Also, 42% would pay a premium for individuals adept at financial modeling.

3. Firms embrace flexibility in work arrangements to attract top talent

Public accounting firms are feeling the pinch with fewer accounting grads entering the workforce. Adding to the talent crunch, seasoned pros often leave their heavy workloads behind for roles in other areas, such as private accounting and the tech sector.In this competitive climate, firms are updating their recruitment strategies. What are top accounting candidates looking for? Competitive salaries, of course, but also flexibility in work schedules, with 65% more likely to apply for roles with remote work options. This trend is particularly pronounced in public accounting, where managers increasingly see remote and hybrid work as the key to successful hiring. In contrast, firms clinging to traditional in-office-only policies find it tougher to attract the talent they need.

4. Finance teams welcome more contract professionals

Many firms are turning to contract talent to manage peak workload and bridge specialized skill gaps. The Salary Guide reveals that 64% of managers plan to increase their use of contract workers. This strategy allows you to be nimble, adjusting your team’s size and skill set as business needs ebb and flow.What are contractors being hired to do? Robert Half’s research shows that 43% of managers use contract talent for FP&A. Additionally, 37% employ contract workers for financial reporting. For accounts payable/receivable roles, crucial for managing cash flow and vendor relationships, it’s 31%. Finally, 29% of managers turn to contract professionals for tax/treasury functions. This approach not only addresses immediate staffing needs but also opens up opportunities for potential long-term hires.

5. Firms enhance focus on specialized roles

Due to the complexities of the regulatory environment, financial services firms are shifting their hiring focus toward specialized roles. Key areas include consumer loss mitigation, asset liability management and financial compliance. This shift also extends to recruiting specialists adept at handling reconciliation backlogs and steering mergers and acquisitions.

6. Combating low morale and burnout is a top priority

Burnout is an all-too-common risk in finance and accounting. Many firms are stretched beyond their limits, swamped with work and often understaffed.How can you alleviate stress and boost morale? Start by acknowledging the hard work and efforts of your team — a few well-timed “thank-you’s” to the troops during tax season can make a big difference. Watch for signs of burnout, like a dip in performance — it might be a cry for help. Use technology to automate mundane tasks, allowing team members to focus on more fulfilling work. Foster an inclusive and collaborative culture where each member feels valued and heard. Finally, rolling out flexible work arrangements can help people strike a better work-life balance. It’s about giving professionals more autonomy to manage their time in a way that works for them and the company.

7. ESG is an in-demand skill set

Businesses are striving to meet regulatory requirements and respond to investor and consumer demand for greater transparency regarding environmental and social impacts. As a result, the ability to accurately track and report on environmental, social and governance metrics is becoming a crucial skill set in the finance and accounting industries, driving demand for skilled professionals.

8. Countering digital threats is a team effort

As threats evolve, so must the ability of finance and accounting professionals to recognize and repel them. Regular training is vital. For example, finance teams can engage in workshops focused on identifying and responding to phishing scams, a constant threat in the digital age. Furthermore, team members can benefit from hands-on sessions with the latest digital security tools, including new encryption technologies or secure cloud storage solutions. By embedding these training sessions into the regular schedule, firms can foster a culture where data security is everyone’s responsibility. 

9. Companies shift toward value-based pricing

The trend toward value-based pricing is reshaping how accounting firms position their services. It’s about aligning fees with the perceived value delivered to clients rather than just the hours worked. This approach demands a deep understanding of clients’ needs and tailoring services to effectively meet those needs. It’s a shift from quantity to quality, focusing on building lasting client relationships based on trust and tangible results.

10. Scalable staffing becomes a strategic tool

Whether managing seasonal workload peaks, tackling reconciliation backlogs or accessing people with specialized skills, scalable staffing offers firms enhanced flexibility. Options range from engaging contract talent and Full-Time Engagement Professionals to managed solutions. This strategy not only boosts efficiency but also allows firms to scale staff up and down as needed.As 2024 unfolds, one thing is certain: It’s bound to throw some curveballs your way. That’s why agility and resilience are so highly prized as leadership qualities. Understanding current industry trends is crucial, but it might just as easily be your ability to pivot in the face of unforeseen events that sets the course for your team’s success. 

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