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Revealed: seven steps to keep pace with tech change

If the pace of technology is keeping you awake at night, Bluefin has it covered, with advice on how to prepare for, protect against and benefit from rapidly changing business technology.

"Bluefin"

December 2019

Few would deny that technological changes are coming thick and fast. Much of the bread and butter accountancy work is already automated and even more will move this way over the next five to 10 years.

Technological advances can be embraced and not seen purely as a threat. The key is to ensure that you are best placed to take advantage of this and have processes and procedures in place as part of your general risk management programme.

So how do you make sure you plan for change? We’ve come up with seven ways to prepare yourself so you can reap the benefits the advancements will bring.

  1. Increased reliance on software and cloud computing will lead to a greater cyber risk both in terms of attacks on the server where such data is stored, but also a greater risk in the event that access to that data is interrupted for non-malicious reasons (eg, problems with a local internet connection or issues experienced by the server host). Ensure that you are prepared for problems with accessing data and have contingency plans, perhaps in the form of backup servers where possible.
  2. Ensure cyber risks are considered at a strategic board level and not viewed as an isolated IT issue. Consider the use of third-party penetration testing for the purposes of assessing any data vulnerabilities. Accountants are seen as aggregators of data and you will usually have a wealth of sensitive client data that holds their financial footprint. This is highly lucrative information for a cyber criminal. 
  3. Consider ways to protect the business financially in the event of an attack or system failure, including the benefits of a cyber insurance policy to cover any business interruption losses and crisis management costs, and have agreed procedures to deal with any cyber or data event. 
  4. Introduce a regular training programme for staff focusing on the awareness of cyber risks and issues. They will often be the first line of defence for any cyber attack (eg, identifying and acting on a phishing email) and it is key that they are awake to the risks and threats that technological advances bring.
  5. Don’t lose your expertise and become “de-skilled”. Put simply, don’t rely entirely on the automated processes. In the event of a failure of the automated processes or inability to access data, ensure you have sufficient skills to enable the numbers to be crunched in a traditional accountancy way! Ensure that regular and continued training continues; if nothing else this will be key in any event for being able to offer the value-added services in the form of analysis and advice.
  6. A greater reliance on advisory work may bring increased risks arising from potential claims and thus lead to a greater involvement by your professional indemnity insurers. However, there are ways to minimise these risks in the form of:
    a. carefully defining the scope of work that you will be undertaking for your client; and
    b. agreeing (and negotiating where applicable) suitable limitations on your liability in the form of liability caps.
    Advisory work is generally seen as higher risk to insurers but on the reverse of this, these changes in roles will likely lead to a reduction in claims arising from mistakes and errors in general accountancy work. A high proportion of claims in this area are driven by simple clerical errors such as missed time limits and as such, these errors should reduce.
  7. The use of social media should not be overlooked. More and more of us turn to social media when looking for assistance or recommendations. A carefully considered social media presence with good thought leadership content can set you apart from your competitors. Take advantage of this and review your website and social media content regularly to maximise your visibility in search engines so that potential new clients can find you online. 

For more information about the insurance and risk management services Bluefin Professions offers, call 0345 894 4684 or email icaew@bluefingroup.co.uk.

Bluefin Professions is a trading name of Jelf Insurance Brokers Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority ((for details see (jelf.com/info/terms). Not all products and services offered are regulated by the FCA.  Registered in England and Wales number 0837227. Registered Office: Hillside Court, Bowling Hill, Chipping Sodbury, BS37 6JX.

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