Industry shifts take place incrementally, perhaps defying the meaning of the word ‘disruption’. Industries, professionals that believe they are untouchable become relegated to history. Print newspaper proprietors and book publishers watched, first with arrogance and then with alarm, the rise and rise of Amazon, Huffington Post and Buzz Feed (amongst others). Record producers and music shopkeepers similarly were left holding unsalable stock against the charge of Napster, YouTube and iTunes. It’s not just technology that builds such irrepressible forces, it’s a generational shift. The robots may or may not be coming but the millennials are; indeed they are here, now.
Consider the traditional accounting firm. For the most part, the professionals – accountants and bookkeepers – have been working with a generation that did not grow up with technology. For the millennial generation, technology, be it cloud technology or app-rich devices or mobiles, are the new tools of trade. These play an integral part of their daily life.
Follow the SMBs and the vendors
Look around at the start-ups of today and note the players. Although still a minority, in five years, millennials will make up half the working population. Is it any surprise that vendors like Xero, MYOB, Intuit and Reckon are marketing direct to this generation (spot the millennial in any of their display ads)? Right now, in Australia, than 1 in 3 workers are millennials, surpassing both Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Not just the workers but the start-ups too. The costs of starting a business today whether it’s an online, tech-start up, a fashion retailer or a professional firm, are not only lower; they are crazy low! Recent research reveals that one in three university students want their own start-up and professional service firms are a great place for millennials to experience the freedom they crave by working ‘off the cloud’ and engaging with like-minded peers.
Mindless data crunching will not be the work of choice for aspiring millennial professionals – nor their SMB clients. Millennial accountants, bookkeepers and their clients will, increasingly, be seeking more fulfilling work and value-contributing advice.
The gap is widening, not shrinking for the business-savvy bookkeeper who can find a niche, exploit it and make the shift form compliance-centric to advisory services. Opportunities abound. Whether it be reporting, payroll services, A/R management or any number of value-accretive advisory services; for the aspiring next-gen professional – as they say – “the world is your oyster”.