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Emerging Change in the Accounting Industry

July 16, 2018

By Mazars USA LLP

The second day of the Accounting & Finance Show, much of the conversation oriented around emerging changes in the industry and the ways the role of the accountant is evolving to continue to meet clients’ needs; continuing to build upon themes highlighted on Day 1.

Accountants Help in Healthcare Practices

In the morning, Partner and Entrepreneurial Services Group Practice Leader Marc Lion led a discussion about the unique set of problems faced by physicians and other medical practitioners when it comes to issues related to finances and accounting.

He explained that an accountant’s value should extend far beyond managing the books, noting that the value of an expert accountant typically becomes evident in his first meetings with prospects. There, he/she asks questions about their practice and the degree to which their operations are currently aligning with their profitability goals.

The unique nature of the healthcare system – in which consumers are frequently not payers, and payment is instead processed through intermediaries including insurers and billing collectors – presents ample opportunity for profit leaks.

As such, Marc explained that an accountant’s trained eye and expertise in revenue cycle management enables our clients to identify and mitigate potential leaks, thereby optimizing productivity and profitability in everything from human resources to accounts receivable.

CFOs and Finance Directors Should be Tech Evangelists

During a concurrent panel discussion of why CFOs and finance directors should be tech evangelists, our CFO Mark Freudenthal discussed how newer technologies are being leveraged both internally and externally to impact strategy and growth.

While acknowledging some needed adjustments – the notion of people working remotely during tax season was initially a difficult transition for older generations to embrace, for example – Mark identified the enhanced reliability, quality, and timeliness with which information can now be provided to clients as benefits of advances in technology.

Automation in particular enables an increasingly complex organization to continue to grow and operate efficiently, generating additional capacity for accountants to address tasks more demanding of a human touch.

Cybersecurity

In the afternoon, Principal Brian Browne spoke on a panel about the growing attention being paid to cybersecurity, as accountants and others strive to stay one step ahead of the threat of hacks and breaches.

While older approaches to cybersecurity focused on linear approaches to post-breach damage control, Brian stressed the importance of multiple and varied controls in mitigating cyber risk pre-breach, in order to prevent irreparable reputational damage.

Citing reports that at least 4% of people will click on a phishing email regardless of training, he emphasized the importance of identifying one’s most valuable and likely-to-be-targeted data from the beginning.

Once these assets have been identified, establishing a cyber control framework comprised of policies as well as people, processes and technologies can ensure that no one access point poses an institutional risk.

The third step is to establish a risk assessment process that studies threats and vulnerabilities, as well as impacts and likelihood. The resulting matrix can help guide business decisions as to how much a firm spends on cybersecurity, as well as attract large, institutional clients encouraged by a secure partner with robust safeguards against potential attacks.

Next week, Marc Lion and Karine Philippon, partner in our Los Angeles office, are speaking at the Accounting & Finance Show in LA. Stay tuned for more industry insights.

 


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