Date posted: 11/10/2018

Jeremy Rowe on why accountants need to innovate

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Across the globe, digital disruption and innovation are changing the ways we work, and accounting is no exception. Due to immense changes in technology and the rise of automation, today's graduates need to prepare a rapidly changing industry.

According to Jeremy Rowe, General Manager of Innovation at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), "there's never been a more exciting time to become an accountant".

Jeremy experienced a variety of approaches to innovation during his time in the start-up world and is now sharing his learnings at CA ANZ. He highlights the importance of innovation to help its members, as well as future employees and young people looking to forge a career in accounting, thrive in their digitally disrupted future.

The key to achieving this is imparting his understanding that innovation is a personal behaviour, not just the evolution of existing products, services or systems.

Have a vision, but don't get fixated on how you're going to get there. You're going to get one good idea from having many ideas.
Jeremy Rowe, General Manager of Innovation, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

The new advisory accountant

To compete and thrive in the marketplace, accountants are urged to innovate. This means evolving the transactional accountant role to a "business-minded individual" that is able to adapt and flow with disruption and secure future success.

"It is a necessity to capitalise on the disruption in order to compete against certain tech entities. This not only means automating processes and services, but ideally becoming a more business-minded individual that moves you towards an advisory and even specialist role player for clients," Jeremy explains.

Innovation in the accounting industry has created the need for a new breed of industry professional. One that does not worry about being replaced by automation, but uses their accounting experience to strategically add value to their clients by becoming a savvy advisor.

"There's an opportunity for accountants to grow by focusing on their advisory behaviours and the value they add to their clients. This means automating the transactional parts, and using education and expertise to access and support new markets," Jeremy says.

"You want to be a co-author of the future as opposed to being disrupted and worried. Your only reason to worry is if you don't adopt this behaviour."

Jeremy Rowe

Jeremy Rowe, General Manager of Innovation, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

How CA ANZ helps its members innovate

CA ANZ uses a variety of methods to help its members survive and thrive in the changing accountancy landscape.

"As a company, we did a strategic review, conducting 100 workshops and used focus-group type methodologies to ascertain the challenges and pain points experienced by our members. As the GM of innovation, I steer the execution of a strategy that provides solutions to those pain points. The pain points, typically, were centric to the changing business and accounting landscapes," Jeremy explains.

CA ANZ is opening up opportunities for its members to be involved in start-up immersions through the lens of technology adoption. CA ANZ will also be conducting workshops and roadshows to support innovative thinking. Jeremy advises that embracing innovation lands squarely on mindset and not falling for the myth of "human perfection".

Innovation cannot reveal itself under the cloak of perfection. Jeremy encourages accountants of today and the future to discover ways to address their own clients' pain points now, and iterate on their solutions and value propositions along the way, rather than waiting for the perfect moment to make change.