Riding the wave – as the economy edges toward recession, how can accounting teams stay on top?

Adam Zoucha, MD EMEA, FloQast

With the UK economy slipping into recession, the heat has been turned up for corporate accounting teams. The pandemic, Brexit, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have all sent shockwaves through the UK economy. In the face of adversity, accounting teams must be prepared to re-forecast and re-frame their growth strategies.

Accounting teams will need to be nimble, sharing accurate data promptly to secure smarter and faster decisions, all while improving teamwork. But, what are the challenges accountants will have to face to help their company thrive in this uncertain economic landscape?

Tough times ahead

First things first, with increased pressure comes a tougher operating environment. Accounting teams will feel the people pinch and may struggle to increase their headcount, with greater scrutiny placed on spending. Combined with organic staff turnover and the historic recruitment challenges facing the sector, accounting teams will be under immense pressure to make up for shortfalls. This will further risk staff burnout and increase stress, exacerbating an already challenging problem.

As with most economic downturns, compliance measures and an appetite for regulatory oversight will increase, impacting accounting teams’ overall bandwidth. The additional work placed on the shoulders of accountants, particularly those who are still being plagued by relentless and repetitive manual processes, will be exposed to greater operational risk.  Critical end-of-month processes and accuracy will be jeopardised and worsened by increasing recruitment and retention concerns.

Adam Zoucha

Overcoming the obstacles

So, it’s true that recessionary changes and growing inflation are intensifying the heat on the accountancy function, bringing more scrutiny and demand for quick and accurate financials at month end.

The challenging economy will require accurate data, and a faster time-to-insight. A common source of frustration during the Close process is incomplete, disorganised, and unclean data. Corporate accounting teams must leverage tools and processes that can facilitate leaner, more accurate figures.

Likewise, visibility of both the data and the process is crucial to aid collaboration and insight. This way insights can be shared between accountants and decision makers within the organisation, allowing for decisions to be made quickly and accurately.

So, whilst there may be a temptation to slow down or stop modernisation efforts, economic slowdowns can be a smart time to interrogate your processes and evaluate their efficacy. Does your team have easy access to accurate information using the appropriate tools? If not, then it is vital to prioritise this to ensure efficiency and timesaving in the long run.

Doing more with less

The combination of relentless manual processes, little cross-team collaboration, and stalling headcount, means automation that supports team productivity, transparency and collaboration is more important than ever. Choosing technology which helps to achieve greater financial velocity and accuracy is imperative.

With the help of automation, the mundane tasks will speed up and the pressures surrounding the Close process will lessen. Accountants will no longer have to chase endless scraps of missing information, with software managing the data effectively.

Teams will free up bandwidth and have more time to focus on strategic aspects of their work, shifting away from the tireless data-crunching aspect of the job toward a more fulfilling role.

Improving team morale and lessening burnout

Once free of some of the mundane, repetitive tasks, accountants will play a crucial role in providing valuable strategic insights to senior leaders.

Modernising core processes through workflow automation solutions can remove the grunt work from team’s shoulders. Those with the right tools will be happier and more fulfilled, which means morale will improve and it will become easier to retain hard-to-come-by employees. In turn, helping to inform smart decision-making will help to combat the challenges that arise during the recessionary period.

Slipping into a recession will inevitably be tough for everyone in business, including accountants. Those teams that recognise the heightened pressure of a recession as a legitimate opportunity to streamline key processes and invest in greater automation, will be those who can provide the optimum support to their companies.

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