Compliance is ‘dead’, says mid-tier partner

The managing partner of a prominent mid-tier firm has declared that, from an accounting point of view, compliance is dead.

“Compliance-based accounting, filling in forms on transactions that happened more than a year ago, is dead – and should be,” stated PKF's Wayne Healy.

Mr Healy told SMSF Adviser’s sister publication AccountantsDaily that while a degree of work in the space would remain, “it is dead from an accountant’s point of view”.

“We know the tax office is dealing more and more with taxpayers,” he said, "so there’s some compliance intermediary work that will go. That doesn’t mean that the taxpayer doesn’t need help, but a great volume of that work will be taken away."

Mr Healy declared the future of accounting will centre on the use of Big Data to make business and personal predictions.

“The amount of data that’s involved in the world these days is incredible,” he said.

“It’s really easy to predict where someone’s jumping, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s going on a holiday or, from a business perspective, trying to launch a new product."

According to Mr Healy, accountants will be able to predict the minutiae of personal spending patterns and larger business behaviours.

“Given access to the right data – and that isn’t hard – why can’t I predict your spending patterns? When your partner's birthday is, when you become a grandparent, when you make unpredicted purchases, and when you buy boating things but don’t disclose your boat,” he said.

To assist the shift to a data- and analytics-driven industry, there has been a transition in the skill-sets of the graduates that are being sought after by firms of all levels, Mr Healy noted.

“Certainly we’re starting to talk more and more about what skill-set does this person have beyond debits and credits,” he said. “I see the big four regularly talk about employing consultants or engineers, or people with non-accounting degrees, and I guess that’s where all firms need to be looking."

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