What does the rise of digital assets mean for the CA of the future?
In 2020 alone, we have seen some massive developments in the digital assets space: China announced that they were testing a digital yuan; public companies such as MicroStrategy and Square invested a percentage of their treasuries in bitcoin; the value of assets locked up in decentralised finance (DeFi) increased to over US$12 billion; and the US announced that banks will be allowed to custody digital assets.
But what does all of this mean for the chartered accountant of the future? Will they have to learn to code to keep up with the changing nature of finance? Will they be left behind as algorithms and computer programs take over their jobs?
See the opportunity
The short answer to the above is, no. They will, however, have to adapt to the changes and adapt quickly.
Whether it’s cryptocurrencies or central bank digital currencies (CBDC) being used as payment methods, or all the transactions in your supply chain being tracked and integrated into your ERP solution through a blockchain protocol, every chartered accountant will interact with digital assets in some way in the future.
What will make the difference is whether you embrace this change or resist it. We are living in an exciting time where the rise of digital assets is forcing us to rethink how we do things. Many of the old standards and methodologies do not apply to the new world, and chartered accountants will have to embrace this and change with the times.
The chartered accountant of the future will not be doing menial tasks such as journal entries or data capture: all these tasks will be automated or accounted for through blockchains using new ideas such as triple-entry accounting. They will have to use their knowledge to understand the implications of all these changes and help their companies and clients navigate them. The traditional standards and ways of doing things do not apply to digital assets, or in many cases their intricacies have not been considered. This is where the chartered accountant of the future will be able to add value and use their skills to develop and improve the future of the financial industry.
Future proof yourself
Never stop learning. It may have been true in the past that after obtaining your professional designation you had a skill set that few others could get, but times have changed. Information is freely available on the Internet.
What will make the difference is the knowledge you add on to the base you already have in your professional qualification. What this knowledge is will depend on you as an individual. With the rise of digital assets, we see that overlapping skill sets become extremely valuable. An understanding of finance and IT, finance and supply chain management, or ‘add your skills set’ and finance becomes critical, as technology is narrowing the gap between these disciplines.
Those who can navigate these changes and merge their existing skills with the changes in their environment will be the successful chartered accountants of the future.