How long before practitioners will look back with nostalgia at the days long ago when accountants were a fixture on the High Street, complete with brass name plates and the office was a physical space rather than a virtual reality.
The signs pointing to the virtual office are already in evidence:
- Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings;
- staff working from home; and
- increasing use of cloud software.
The virtual office will incorporate and monopolise the use of artificial intelligence until interpretation and perhaps planning will become the sole domain of the human touch.
Technology will likely drive the transition as will the needs of business owners, as software deals with compliance issues and entrepreneurs and taxpayers seek out advisors rather than number crunchers.
Firms will need to keep pace with these changes. If we can learn anything from history, its that change and evolution are remorseless and inevitable.
Firms are already employing staff that work solely from home and may be resident in other countries.
Making Tax Digital will morph into a Digital Tax Environment where software will include automated data disclosure to government following an AI led check on data accuracy. The process will include quarterly, or maybe monthly assessments of taxes due, and direct debits will secure payment.
What will not change is the need to communicate changes in legislation and how these changes can be utilised to reduce the impact of taxes and further the interests of business clients. And, of course, accountants will be well placed to deliver this advice.