accounting trends with paul meissner

A lot of people like to talk about accounting trends in the profession.

Blockchain-this. AI-that.

It’s easy to get wrapped up into the hype.

What’s needed is for someone to sometimes push back.

And when it comes to accounting trends, that’s exactly what Paul Meissner does.

Paul is one of the first people I’ve met in the cloud accounting space. Launching his cloud firm, 5 Ways Group, in 2010 (!), he has certainly been a pioneer.

But what’s interesting is that Paul doesn’t blindly buy into the hype when it comes to new accounting trends. In fact, when he sees the hype, he pushes back.

As the 2019 Xero Cloud Champion of the Year award winner for his own firm in Australia, Paul also co-hosts a podcast busting “fake news” in the profession. I wanted to get him on to the Future Firm® Accounting Podcast to talk a bit about some of the cool things he’s doing in his own firm and to chat through some of the top current accounting trends to get his take on a few of them.

Below you’ll find the podcast episode along with a description of the 5 accounting trends that we discussed.

Check it out!

Future Firm® Accounting Podcast – 5 Accounting Trends Debated



5 Accounting Trends Discussed in the Episode

During my interview with Paul, we touch on a number of accounting trends that currently have a lot of hype. While Paul and I don’t see eye to eye on all of these accounting trends, it certainly makes for an interesting discussion.

Here are 5 of the hottest current accounting trends that we discussed:

1) The Death of Compliance Work & the Rise of Advisory

For years now, the narrative in the profession has been that technology will automate compliance work. Those focusing on compliance work should, therefore, focus on services that will be harder to automate, such as advisory services.

In this episode, Paul and I discuss the merits of this with Paul being incredibly outspoken on the narrative surrounding the death of compliance services.

The chat starts at around 23:09 into the episode.

2) AI & Robots Taking Our Jobs

There’s lots of talk about robots stealing your job. But can software really replace accountants?

Paul doesn’t think so. In fact, he believes there’s a threat much bigger than software that exists that may replace our jobs.

On the topic of artificial intelligence, he points to a few examples where AI has gotten things horribly wrong.

Start listening in at 33:02.

3) The Rise of Accounting Tech Startups

There are a number of accounting tech startups raising millions of dollars looking to challenge the status quo. My feeling is that these present a threat to many traditional firms out there. These tech startups are dead focused on creating an exceptional, easy customer experience à la Uber. Most firms aren’t even close.

Paul, on the other hand, is skeptical. He provides his opinion and a reasoned approach.

The conversation on this starts at 42:45.

4) Uberization of the Profession

After attending QuickBooks Connect in San Jose, I wrote a QuickBooks Connect highlights piece outlining one major accounting trend to look out for: QuickBooks Live.

This new offering by the software giant pairs bookkeepers with small businesses directly within Intuit’s platform. Intuit is going as far as to hire bookkeepers directly to deliver the service.

While Paul believes this is an interesting offering, he’s not especially keen on people calling this an “Uberization.” We chat more on the subject in the episode starting at around 38:38.

5) Blockchain and the Extinction of Auditors

People love throwing the word “blockchain” around in the profession. Heck, even I’ve written about the possibilities of blockchain automating bookkeeping as well as blockchain eliminating auditors.

But Paul is not buying it. We touch on this starting at 49:06.

Show Notes

5:02 – Paul recently won the 2019 Xero Cloud Champion of the Year award. He started his firm from inception in 2010 to be a cloud firm to help him work remotely and to help save costs.

7:32 – Paul has always been on top of the latest accounting trends. One such trend was setting up a cloud firm that allowed him to become a digital nomad. This allowed him to work while traveling for prolonged periods of time.

10:42 – “I felt more connected to you while you were away” – The words from one of Paul’s staff members as Paul lived his digital nomad life.

12:55 – Paul works 2 days a week in his firm. I ask Paul why he thinks other firm owners are so overworked. He gives some good insight here.

17:23 – While Paul is interested in accounting trends in the profession, he’s also big on busting hype. So much so, he and his co-host dedicated a podcast towards battling fake news in the profession.

23:09 – Paul and I get into the whole discussion around “advisory”. When it comes to accounting trends, most of us have been hearing that you need to offer advisory services to be relevant in the future. We chat on this subject and how much truth there is to it.

25:16 – Paul shares who he thinks has pushed the “you must sell advisory services” narrative too far.

27:14 – The “compliance is dead” narrative has existed for many years. Paul shares his thoughts on whether or not he thinks compliance services are dead.

33:02 – Paul gives his insight on the greatest threat to the death of compliance work, and it’s not from software.

38:38 – I wanted to know which accounting trends Paul is following and which ones he thinks are all hype. One that annoys Paul is the talk about the Uberization of the profession. More specifically we touch on QuickBooks Live.

42:45 – Paul chats Botkeeper, one of the many accounting tech startups raising millions of dollars which some see as a threat to traditional firms. Paul says, “let’s see it” before buying into the early hype.

45:38 – Can software really replace accountants? Paul believes in the power of personal relationships over software.

49:06 – Paul jumps right into, “blockchain has absolutely no relevance to anyone.” Paul and I go back and forth a bit on this popular accounting trend. All hype?

52:15 – On future developments in accounting Paul says: “I’ve only looked at what I can use now. I look at the latest thing I can use. But I don’t consume myself in what I can use in the future.”

55:42 – Wanna connect with Paul? Check him out on LinkedIn or on Twitter. Also, be sure to check out the From the Trenches Podcast.

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