Evolution of Technology in Accounting: A Journey through PKF Sydney and Newcastle’s Growth

In the span of nearly 50 years, the landscape of accounting at PKF has undergone a transformative journey, with technology emerging as a central catalyst for change. Reflecting on the early days characterised by traditional processes, camaraderie, and a focus on compliance, the narrative shifts dramatically when we fast forward to the present.

“The early days, in my time with Lawlers, from the perspective of how we did things it was very traditional in some ways in terms of how you process tax returns and the like. But if I role forward to today it’s a very different environment and a very different skillset required to deliver.” said Steve Meyn, Partner.

The advent of technology has been a driving force behind the evolution in the skill set demanded from accountants. Our growth trajectory is marked by a strategic response to client needs, moving seamlessly from tax returns and audits to embracing wealth management, superannuation, and corporate finance.

“We went from doing compliance, then our clients grew and needed audits, interestingly BRI followed that. Then we went onto wealth and superannuation, and later on with the evolution of technology what we have seen is a lot more investment in doing things more efficiently with faster real time information, so a lot of our services have gone there, and with the baby boomers the amount of business succession saw a lot of sales so corporate finance came in from there.” said Simon Rutherford, Partner.

What stands out is the dynamic role of technology in reshaping services. Our focus has shifted towards efficiency, speed, and real-time information, mirroring the contemporary demand for instant insights. The journey from printing out folders of reports to harnessing the power of digitisation underscores our commitment to staying ahead of the curve.

“I think there’s a bunch of significant changes that has happen in the accounting and finance sector, I think digitisation is a huge one, the power of greater and more timely access to data. That also increases our clients expectations of us, and our own expectations of ourselves, which is a fantastic thing and something we should never lose.” said Stacie Shaw, Partner.

One of the most profound changes has been the integration of technology into daily operations. With the transition from business card file effects to digital databases, and the elimination of monthly printouts, we have not only adapted but actively driven technological advancements. The role of technology in practice management, exemplified by the updating of systems twice in two decades, reflects our team’s commitment to embracing change.

“When I started, we would print out folders and folders of reports every month end, that technology has changed and I have been apart of that change of technology and updating our practice management system twice over 20 years.” said Natalie Fahey, Finance Manager.

The key insights from this journey include the recognition of digitisation as a transformative force and the realisation that timely access to data elevates both client and self-expectations. The ever-present regulatory landscape serves as a guiding force, as we position ourselves as implementers of policies, ensuring alignment with statutory requirements.

Crucially, the narrative dispels the myth of technology replacing people. Instead, we emphasise the symbiotic relationship between technology and human expertise. The growth in numbers and the ability to provide up-to-date information affirm that technology is not a threat but a tool to enhance client service.

“Bringing on technologies to help us do our work is a necessity because we just can’t provide clients with what they demand in the current day without having access and knowledge of up-to-date technology. It’s not about getting rid of people and them being replaced with technology, its getting people to use our technology to provide a better product and you can see by our numbers growth, that there hasn’t been any loss of people in the process.” said Bob Bell, Managing Director.

Our client-centric ethos remains unwavering amid technological shifts. Our firm’s commitment to listening, asking questions, and recognising clients as individuals underscores that, at its core, accounting is a people-centric profession.

Learn more by watching the 'Retrospect' series below.

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