How Can CPAs Stay Ahead in the Automation Era?

Automation has been on the rise over the past few years. Advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence promote automation in various facets of business operations.

Many industries, including retail, agriculture, manufacturing, and customer service, have already moved to artificial intelligence to automate their work. According to research by PwC, Artificial Intelligence alone is expected to have a $15.7 trillion economic impact by 2030.

Automation in the Accounting Industry

The accounting industry is also not too far behind when it comes to automation. Many leading accounting software providers like Xero, Intuit, and Sage have already incorporated AI technologies into their software to perform various accounting tasks.

With the accounting industry moving towards automation at a fast pace, accountants are a little skeptical about future job prospects in the industry.

There is no second thought about the fact that machines can perform accounting tasks such as auditing, expense management, bank reconciliations, etc. in a much faster way and with higher accuracy. But does this mean that it will replace humans in these jobs?

A study by PwC showed that accountants – specifically accounting clerks and bookkeepers are most at risk from automation in the next 20 years, the reason being that computer systems and robotics will be able to perform accounting tasks in a more efficient manner.

But this is not necessarily true.

Even though technology has the upper hand over humans in many ways, there are other aspects of accounting services that it can’t replace.

Shedding light on this, Dwayne Bragonier, CITP, a chartered professional accountant and founder of BAI Bragonier and Associates Inc. said, “A big chunk of the manpower required to record a transaction or to accumulate transactions into an aggregate will, of course, be automated.”

He goes on to say, “The work that will be automated is not a CPAs responsibility. That work was simply something that needed to be done for CPAs to start their job.”

This statement by Bragonier makes a lot of sense. Even though the initial raw data and its aggregation are vital for any business, people would still require an accountant to analyze that data and come with effective plans and policies ultimately required for the growth of their business.

Thus, automation will essentially free the CPAs from performing all the tedious data work and will push them to focus on other more important responsibilities and to take up different roles such as that of a business analyst, consultant, and strategist.

Time to Prepare for the Future

Now is the time for accountants to prepare for the automation era in order to grow in the industry. Here are a few ways how they can keep at par with the changing technology-

  1. CPAs should be able to quickly adapt to the changing technology and should be ready to seize new opportunities that are coming up with technological advancement.
  2. They should educate themselves with the new technology and look for ways to offer more value to their clients.
  3. Accounting is no more limited to just auditing and bookkeeping, and thus CPAs must move ahead of the bookish knowledge and gain experience and expertise in their chosen field as soon as possible.
  4. Since everything is becoming automated these days, it has become essential for CPAs to become well versed with the use of laptops and computers to carry out their work.

So, it is safe to say that automation will transform accountants and not replace them, and CPAs and accountants will remain in the business till the time they add more value to their clients.

read original article here