A 2015 report from NPR predicted various jobs that will be affected by artificial intelligence. Incidentally, accountancy is among the many industries most susceptible to the drastic changes automation brings.
According to the report, the following jobs have a very high chance of being automated:
- Accountants and auditors (93.5%)
- Bookkeepers (97.6%)
- Financial analysts (23.3%)
It’s already happening. Technology has caused a disruption in the accounting industry. Automation is already on the horizon. Just look at the many accounting apps and software that help accountants with compliance work.
Technological innovations already include tax software, bookkeeping apps and other platforms that generate financial data accountants use to come up with financial strategies for their clients.
Forecast Or Fear-cast?
The revolution has paved the way for quick and easy access to data. It’s also made possible a more robust and organised way to obtain information accountants need to perform their jobs well.
Accountants no longer have to chase after clients for documents or wait weeks for engagement letters. Accounting technology has made things more convenient for accountants who used to be bogged down with too much work they no longer have time to check up on their clients.
But what does this really mean for the accounting industry?
At first glance, the forecasts can strike fear in the hearts of accountants, bookkeepers, and financial analysts because automation poses a threat to their jobs.
But does it?
Artificial intelligence can take over systematic, repetitive tasks. But that doesn’t mean it can fully take over an accountant’s job. There’s still no replacement for analytical thinking, which makes up a significant portion of the job.
All these tools can’t replace a human brain. The human element is important in ensuring all these tools work well. In addition, someone has to oversee all the acquired data for quality checking. Bots can’t draw substantial conclusions and formulate strategies a client needs.
Tool Or Threat?
Accountants need to look at artificial intelligence as a tool and not as a threat. Having this kind of mindset will allow accountants to make the most out of technology, thereby improving efficiency and, ultimately, profitability.
Artificial intelligence can take care of the legwork–the trivial and time-consuming tasks. An accountant’s job is to take care of business, which requires strategy, which is something no app or software can do.
There’s really nothing to worry about. Artificial intelligence offers a better future for accountants; a future of empowerment and not a replacement. Automated software, as of the moment, cannot provide businesses something as complex as a human mind’s analytical thinking. Something this intuitive cannot be fully captured by machine.
Accountants can definitely use this to their advantage. Automate repetitive tasks. Once these low-impact administrative tasks are out of the way, accountants have more time to devote to their clients. By spending face-to-face time with clients, accountants become more proactive, allowing them to offer more value.
Only a real accountant can listen to a client’s concerns, problems, fears, wishes, goals, etc. This is a vital element in the accountant-client relationship. No amount of automating tool can replace this.
Artificial intelligence is here to stay and it’s already altered the accounting industry. Technology is a huge enabler of offshoring and global accounting firms stand a better chance for growth if they embrace technology.
Concerns about losing bookkeeping and accounting jobs to robots can be set aside because although tools and apps can automate certain tasks, technology cannot fulfill the most vital element of the process: strategic decision-making.
Robots can only accomplish so much and it would still require a human mind to make sense of the data obtained by such systems. Clients will still need to consult a human accountant for their financial decisions.
Artificial intelligence should be viewed as an empowerment tool and not a replacement.
The Outsourced Accountant helps accounting firms from all over the world grow their capacity, margins and profits through global outsourcing. Contact us to find out more about how we can help your firm.