Expert Interview: Seth Fineberg on Simplifying Accounting and Finance

We recently checked in with Seth Fineberg, the site’s managing editor, to pick his brain on accounting trends and get advice on simplifying tax and accounting functions. Here’s what he had to say:

Can you tell us a little about your professional background? What’s your experience/interest in accounting?

My career spans the world of business and financial journalism. I have held junior and senior positions at a variety of business trade publications and information services for the past 25 years. For 13 of those years, I covered news and trends around accounting-related technology as well as its impact on the profession as a whole. I currently oversee the editorial direction of a community site with content coming predominantly from the accounting profession and those looking to influence it and move it forward. Our goal is to help provide useful information to practicing accountants looking to grow their practices and better serve their clients.

Why is it important that businesses simplify their tax and accounting functions?

It should come as little surprise that the accounting profession is undergoing a massive shift from rear-facing compliance work, to a more advisory role. The current business environment demands it, both directly and indirectly so simplifying core functions becomes essential to allowing accountants and CPAs to look deeper into the financials and spend more of their time on business growth; being a true partner to the businesses they serve.

What are some tried-and-true strategies for simplifying these functions?

While nothing is 100 percent, these days regular use of anything that is designed to automate the most basic back office functions and has been doing so with proven success is the first key strategy to have.

What doesn’t seem to work as well?

I will say this. There’s a lot of talk about integration and most of it is just that: talk. True integration is not completely there for everything. There’s usually a work-around or some API or add-on needed to make a truly seamless integration work. And as more apps, cloud and mobile, come on to the market, the need to integrate them with core functions becomes ever more crucial. Unfortunately, the reality of these so-called integrations is not all they present themselves to be, or all that product marketing presents them to be.

What innovations are you most excited about for how they will help businesses manage tax and accounting functions?

Well cloud and mobile in general have come to the forefront of all business automation decisions, now it’s about what to use and where it’s going next. Wearables and voice-activated functions could be interesting but it’s still a bit early to say. In the accounting profession, aside from the early adopters we’re just getting into accepting automation of tax and accounting tasks.

What are the biggest finance trends you’re observing as we enter the new year?

I guess automating more things like expense management and also being able to look deeper into the data companies already have.

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