Skill shortage trust: Why automation of simple tasks is so important

One might think that with the omnipresent digitization, jobs such as data scientists, digital transformation managers or software developers have become the most sought-after professions. But if you look at the statistics, the reality looks different.
According to the Swiss Job Market Monitor (SMM), fiduciary professions are at the top of the skills shortage index, along with engineering and technical professions. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) also noted a pronounced shortage of skilled workers in the fiduciary professions. In addition, also according to a study by Adecco, the fiduciary professions are the most sought-after professions in Switzerland.

The category «fiduciary» includes professions such as tax advisor, auditor, accountant and business lawyer. However, according to Christian Nussbaumer, fiduciary expert and president of the Zurich section of the Swiss Association of Professional Trustees, fiduciary experts and auditors are among the most sought-after professions as this is where the shortage of specialists is correspondingly greatest.

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Causes for the shortage of skilled workers

One of the main reasons for the increased shortage of skilled workers is the wave of retirements that is emanating from the baby boomer generation. From currently 70,000 to 90,000 annual retirements, the number of new retirements will rise to well over 100,000 per year. At the same time, however, not enough young people are entering the labour market. This creates a gap between supply and demand, which will become even more significant in the coming years. This year, the gap is expected to be as high as 20,000 workers.

Another reason for the shortage of skilled workers in the fiduciary sector is the rather poor image of the profession. According to Christian Nussbaumer, the profession of fiduciary is not «sexy» in the opinion of the general public and is therefore less frequently sought after respectively practised. After all, they say it involves sitting in the office all day long and juggling with numbers.

The consequence: highly paid, repetitive work

As always, when demand exceeds supply, prices rise – in this case, it is the rising wages of the trustees. As wages rise, so do the costs of accounting in companies. The scope of duties of trustees also includes various repetitive and monotonous tasks, which sometimes contribute to the bad image of the profession. This also includes the manual and tedious typing of receipts, for example.

Most likely, these activities are not among the highlights of their profession, even from the trustee’s point of view. Rather, social contact and intimate client relationships are valued. According to Nussbaumer, the job profile of a fiduciary will in the future be increasingly characterized by psychological knowledge, character building, social skills and sales competence in addition to purely professional skills. However, it is precisely the interaction with clients that would be a determinant for such a shift that is currently suffering from the time-consuming manual hard work.

With rising costs, the economic pressure on companies is also increasing. For technology companies, this opens up new opportunities for innovative solutions in the market. More on this in a somewhat older article by Alain Veuve, CEO of Parashift.

Digitalization as a solution

Digitalization offers a solution to this problem. Because with new technology, some monotonous diligent work can be automated for the most part. Usually, only a minimal amount of follow-up control and monitoring of the processes is required.

One of the technologies applied in this context is modern OCR software for document extraction. With this kind of software, documents relevant to accounting, such as delivery notes, credit notes, invoices, etc., can be extracted automatically. In most cases, you can save on a substantial part of the manual document entry. With the extraction solution that Parashift offers you, you can even save 100% of this work. Even the post-processing. This is because Parashift itself takes over this part of the process and checks whether the metadata has been read out correctly and makes corrections where necessary.

Lower costs and more flexibility through automation

By automating various accounting processes, including the automated extraction of documents, a lot of productivity and flexibility can be gained. Fiduciaries and clerks have to spend less and less valuable time on monotonous diligent work or small, banal but cumulative tasks. This relieves the burden on trustees, who thus have more time to develop even more comprehensive service offerings and can focus more on customer interaction. The result is a tendency towards more qualitative consulting, as customers are better understood and can be offered simple and straightforward advice. This is exactly the approach taken by the Swiss software start-up Accounto, for example. So if you are a fiduciary or even an SME and want to take your accounting to the next level, take a look at Accounto’s value proposition.

Image upgrade in the fiduciary industry

By automating monotonous tasks, trustees can therefore focus more on their core competencies and the actual core aspects of their profession. This allows them to concentrate more on creative and individual financial work rather than repetitive and mundane tasks. The job becomes cognitively more demanding, creative, humane and consequently a more attractive profession. For you as a trustee, this step towards the digital transformation is therefore not to be seen as a threat, but clearly as an opportunity. Because you can compensate for a lack of resources and achieve a positive change in the trustee job by redistributing tasks between man and machine. Positive, because tasks can be assigned in alignment to the abilities and the actual nature of man and machine.

Mitigating the shortage of skilled workers thanks to digitalization

To circle back to the beginning of the article, the problem of the lack of skilled workers in the fiduciary sector can be counteracted by means of digitalization. On the one hand, the trustees are relieved of some of the manual work and can therefore achieve more at the same time. This means that trustees need less time to look after a client and thus the significance of the shortage of skilled workers decreases. On the other hand, the profession of fiduciary will regain an improved image through digitization, which will tend to lead to a greater demand for jobs and thus a greater supply of fiduciaries on the labor market. 

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