The next decade will be a period of rapid change and continuous transformation for the accounting profession that will lend itself to greater opportunities for growth and productivity, according to a new report.

That's just one of the findings in the latest edition of the Intuit 2020 report, which focuses on the demographic, social, economic and technology shifts that will shape the accounting profession over the next decade. The report is the latest in a series of studies, prepared by Emergent Research in partnership with Intuit Inc. that explore trends that will affect consumers and small businesses, and those who serve them.

Agility and flexibility will be paramount to the future of the accounting profession, as technology and demographic shifts transform the way people work and live, the report found. In 2020, accounting practitioners will not only have changed the way they work, but also the work that they do, as consumers and businesses turn to accounting and tax professionals for competitive strategies to navigate the global marketplace.

"The Future of Accounting" report builds on the Intuit 2020 Report and harnesses the collective expertise of the accounting professional community. Intuit’s Accounting Professionals Division and Emergent Research conducted a series of forecast workshops, exercises, and interviews with accounting professionals, academics, industry analysts and the media. These sessions identified the important trends and implications that will affect the accounting industry.

Driven by demographic, technological, social and economic shifts, accounting and tax professionals will find themselves moving beyond preparing financial reports and tax returns to embracing more consultative roles and navigating the global marketplace for their clients, predicts the report.

Specialization and collaboration will lead to increased opportunities for accounting and tax professionals, who will work across global borders to meet their client needs, made possible by advances in technology, according to the report. Demographic shifts and a growing U.S.-based minority population will have broad implications for firms and their clients, influencing how, when and with whom they do business.

As technology expands and the automation of data collection rises, the focus of accounting will shift from computation to consulting as clients increasingly rely on their accounting professionals to analyze business information, support decisions and provide strategic advice. Social media and ubiquitous mobile technologies will become even more pervasive, changing the way accounting and tax professionals conduct business and attract new clients. It will be imperative for practitioners to manage their Web and mobile presences to establish firm reputation and brand.

“We’re excited about what the future holds for the accounting profession,” said Jill Ward, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit's Accounting Professionals Division. “As accounting and tax professionals play an increasingly strategic role in the livelihood of individuals and small businesses, Intuit will continue to work as a trusted ally, providing the resources needed to help those in the accounting industry evolve and thrive in a connected world.”

The Intuit 2020 report, released in October 2010, identified 20 emerging trends and shifts that will shape business and society over the next decade. This Future of Accounting report is part of the Intuit 2020 Report series. Subsequent research will explore the effect of these trends on specific markets or industries, and the way people live and work.

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