Debate: Will automation replace accountants?

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Automation will make accountants extinct. According to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around 25% of UK accountants are facing the risk of losing their jobs to automation. History shows that with the rise of technology, more and more jobs are becoming obsolete.

Accountant’s core responsibilities are now slowly being automated—billings, tax returns, bookkeeping, reconciliations, and much more. What’s left is just the mere task of feeding data to automated software. A job that anyone can do with a less overhead cost. So without a doubt, it’s just a matter of time until automation will replace accountants.

Automation can be seen in almost every aspect of our daily life. It makes doing things easier and more accurate. Which means sooner or later, it will take over some tasks humans are currently doing. And when it comes to jobs, accountants are now on the verge of extinction.

Bookkeeping is the process of inputting transactions into an accounting system. Accounting consists of much more than just bookkeeping, such as analyzing the accounting system’s output, making entries and disclosures to comply with accounting rules, and using the accounting information to help make business decisions.

While automation and AI will continue to reduce the labor involved in bookkeeping, just as the personal computer’s invention did, it will never completely eliminate the need for someone to review and oversee accounting services. I don’t anticipate AI ever replacing the more advanced aspects of accounting, such as adjustments, disclosures, and consulting. These areas often deal with issues that are far from certain, especially for companies required to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

An automation-powered software helps to reduce the workload but can’t replace accountants. The thing with automation is that it can never replace accountants. Software such as Freshbooks and Xeros can do all the number work for businesses, but an accounting department’s job doesn’t just end here. The software makes it easy to process data quickly and cost-efficiently and eliminates the need to make books on your own. However, after this; comes the process of insights, where accountants work. They analyze this data and present data-driven insights, which a firm needs at the end of the day. This processed form of data makes a firm understand the areas they need to improve and how it should be done.

AI and automation have indeed replaced or minimized human input in recent years in many different fields and departments. Manual methods have not only proved to be more time-consuming but also more error-prone. However, human analytical capabilities and other similar processes are not replaceable yet.

Technology has taught us how many methods can be improved; the introduction of new software in many different fields has smoothened the processes and eased the flow of work. However, all these new software and programs require highly trained professional accountants and are not self operational. It is hard to say that automation will replace accountants any time soon since AI is still not strong enough to replace human analytical capabilities.

Automation will definitely take over basic tasks that don’t require much critical thinking. *This includes tax handling, auditing, and payroll-related duties. Most of the functions handled by a junior-level accountant will be automated.

 

Artificial Intelligence will help in large scale data collection and process suggestions. But at the end of the day, we’ll need human accountants to make high-level strategic decisions. A lot of these decisions will require psychological thinking, which AI is not capable of.

It’s like concluding that AI is about to displace millions of workers because companies are trying to save costs. The reality is, technology is being developed these days to complement the work of humans.

One interesting story on how technology has supported us during this period is how we implement a more accurate record-keeping system to avoid more potential losses due to mismanagement of billable hours. We have a dedicated team that administers a software tool that captures billable hours according to our billing guidelines.

Since our consultants are always on the move, we’ve also benefited from mobile accounting. We’re able to manage our business while being on the road so our clients can get a hold of us wherever we are.

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