across the world
Debate: Will Automation Replace Accountants?
Automation is undoubtedly the way to the future; however, some arguments can be made for its uses in accounting. Automation will allow accountants to have company data ready and at their fingertips to simply observe and analyze numbers to effectively manage financial accounting.
Having this data readily available to go through will always be beneficial to a company as the data will be accurate and will not need to be rechecked, resulting in the best results and value for the company.
To get into how it can affect accountants’ jobs and life, Let’s see what industry experts have to save about automation in accounting.
1. Shayne Sherman, Tech Expert, and CEO of Techloris
Working as a Tech Expert and CEO at my company. I believe robotic automation will automate all the routine tasks like payrolls, tax handling, and audits helping to complete repetitive tasks in less time and with enhanced accuracy. It will save the accountant much of futile energy as well as time, which can be invested in other advanced areas.
Consequently, Artificial intelligence and Automation will drive the accountants to create suitable strategies for the betterment of the company entirely.
It will help them analyze the AI data and make decisions accordingly. AI will transform the accounting arena with suitable advancements and not replace the accountants.
2. Mark Condon, CEO and Founder of Shotkit
The future of Accountants will certainly include consulting; the better an accountant at consulting the precise advice to the customers from the right AI data the better the career of that accountant will become.
Therefore, If you are the type of accountant who can become highly proficient in analyzing the data produced by AI and taking action in minimum possible time, you are not going to replace, unless organizations will not have any option.
3. Dan Bailey, President of WikiLawn
The advice and opinion of a CPA will be as valuable in 20 years as it is today. I do, however, believe CPAs and other business accountants will adopt more and more technology to help them do their jobs.
We will absolutely see automation integrate with their workflow to the benefit of us all. But I don’t believe it will ever replace them.
4. Elliott Brown, Director of Marketing at OnPay
Our research shows that 86% of small business owners see their accountant as a trusted advisor for a wide range of business advice. They trust their accountant for advice more than their lawyer, their banker, or their friends and family.
While some duties that accountants handle may be automated, streamlined, or outsourced over time, the need for a good advisor will never go away.
Successful accountants are likely to take on increasingly consultative roles where they spend more time interpreting data, answering questions, and helping clients prepare for the future, but automation is not likely to replace them any time soon.
5. David Baddeley, Director at Trust Deed Scotland
In my personal opinion, I don’t think automation will ever replace a human accountant because, to be a successful accountant, you will need to be able to communicate with clients as well as number crunch.
I do, however, feel it would be beneficial for all accountants if they could have a better understanding of AI and coding because being able to understand and operate an AI as well as being a good accountant will give you the upper hand of most and it could possibly strengthen your position in the company or in your community.
6. Barry Weinstein, Founder and CEO of VolatilityFX
Advances in AI, Machine Learning, and Automation in the financial markets do not replace but complements the years of practical experience held by senior accountants and bankers. If anything, improved technology makes bankers more valuable, as their output greatly improves.
The ATM did not have the effect of replacing the bank teller but allowed bank tellers to service more clients quickly and with fewer mistakes. There are more bank tellers now than at the dawn of the ATM.
Finally, there is the question of data overload, where algorithms can provide powerful and substantial metrics; it takes human accountants who have years of practical experience to interpret insights for decision making in otherwise overwhelming quantities of data. Finance and accounting are an intricate dance between operator and machine, and both are equally necessary.
7. Jack Choros, CFO of Sophisticated Investor
I don’t think automation will replace accountants. Accounting is a professional career in automation is still decades away, in my opinion. Yes, the data is all numerical, and you can create all kinds of rules and algorithms for software to be able to do the work for you.
However, accounting records are sensitive, and people are going to want to be able to talk to an expert about their comments, questions, or concerns. Things that can be more easily automated will take precedence. I think it’ll take a long time for that to happen in the accounting world.
8. Emily Deaton, Financial Journalist at Let Me Ban
‘I think that accountants will not exist for many more years unless they can train in something that can help the AI to be working better. There does need to be a human touch with accounting, but how long will it be until AI can replicate that? Some AI is learning to understand emotion and how people work, so even that part of the job, using those interpersonal skills, will not be needed much longer.
Automation is changing all the time, and it will be hard for humans to keep up with the updates, so it may be time for them to step aside and to aid the AI in doing better. There is no point trying to win a losing battle. If you can’t beat them, join them, as they say.’
9. Ben Tanner, Business Owner, and Entrepreneur at Strummingly
When it comes to fairly simple bookkeeping tasks, there is already some automation. For example, bookkeeping software will suggest what certain category expenses should go into. Unfortunately, in my experience, they are usually wrong, so I end up having to re-categorize most of the expenses manually.
Even if bookkeeping was more effectively automated — which might happen in the next few years — I don’t think automation could replace the higher-level decision making, and understanding all the nuances of tax law and other accounting practices. There is a lot of gray areas and subjectivity in tax law that computers would have a hard time understanding, at least with their current level of artificial intelligence.
There may come a time years hence when this all changes but for now I don’t think automation will replace accountants, other than for some very simple bookkeeping and report generation.
10. Pisey Daung, ACCA, CPA
When it comes to automation, most people are afraid of losing a job. This is because some basic and routine tasks such as bookkeeping and reconciliation are done through automation. However, it is not the case. Automation cannot replace accountants. It is just one part that helps to remove such basic and routine tasks.
When automation exists, accountants will not spend much time on those basic tasks. Instead, they will spend more time on value-added activities or tasks. For example, they will spend much more time on financial analysis, budgeting, projection, variance analysis, and other tasks that involve more strategic decisions to further grow the company.
The accountants will become more trusted and business partners to senior management and also a more holistic business advisor to its clients. They will manage and oversee the automation process to ensure that the information is processed accurately.
11. Jim Pendergast, Senior Vice President of altLINE Sobanco
The prediction that automation is coming to accounting isn’t wrong. It’s just a misleading half-truth. After an accountant develops beyond entry-level clerical duties, the judgments they make every day require human experience and judgment. Some people say that machine learning will replicate this, and to an extent, that’s true.
Data science linked with machine learning is fascinating. It’s fantastic, but it needs a qualified teacher to process repetitive yet varying data, let alone balance hundreds of unquantifiable financial variables.
Accounting rules are pretty open-ended, and to get the best business result is beyond a machine’s ability to hack. There will always be accountants performing oversight on the automation; the two work together.
12. James Pollard, Founder at The Advisor Coach
Yes and no. I think it WILL replace a lot of the easier tax planning and filing. For example, if you’re someone who only earns W2 income, planning, and filing for your taxes is very easy.
Automation can do that in a heartbeat. Also, if you’re running a simple business with mere income and expenses (that can get tracked in any good accounting software), then yes, automation can replace your accountant.
However, I don’t think that automation will replace accountants in more complex scenarios. For example, if you’re running a business with ownership in other businesses, combined with partners with different equity stakes, various types of investments, etc., then you’re going to need a human to evaluate your situation. Will automation eventually catch up for complex situations? I think so, but it won’t be anytime soon.
13. Ty Stewart, CEO & President of Simple Life Insure
Automation takes care of the calculations, and inputting accountants shouldn’t be toiling away in any way because their human time and talents are better used elsewhere. That includes:
- Customer, client, and supply chain liaising.
- Analyzing and interpreting historical and predictive accounting analytics.
- Reduced rate of errors in transactions and data entry.
- Ideating and implementing value-added accounting services, both internally for the company and externally for vendors and customers.
- Greater operational compliance.
- A new world of program integrations further allowing accounting staff to make data-backed decisions.
All this actually creates a more human approach to accounting. The irony is that its technology is allowing the field to re-prioritize human capabilities like critical thinking, data interpretation, and customer servicing. Yet this should be seen as a net boon.
14. Jim Miller, CFO at I Am Jim Miller
I embrace advancement and see automation and A.I. replacing many of today’s jobs. But automation will not be replacing most accounting functions until huge advances are made that do not exist today. And beyond that, certainly not higher-level accounting functions.
The reality is that AI is excellent at doing a process or a set of processes. But it cannot understand why it is doing an activity. This lack of understanding is what separates humans from animals and robots.
Do I think A.I. could replace bookkeeping in the next five years… yes.
Do I think it will replace Accounting Managers, Controllers, auditors, and CFO’s? Absolutely not.
15. John Ross, President & CEO at Test Prep Insight
Accounting takes creative thought, problem-solving, and drawing inferences, all things which software and algorithms cannot handle adeptly, if at all.
Accounting software cannot draft technical accounting memos on IFRS issues or spot opposites for efficiency gains from looking between the lines.
There will be a role for automation in accounting — namely data entry, auto-categorizing transactions, balancing ledgers, etc. — but these things are already being done in software programs. There will not be any huge wave of future automation that puts accountants out of work.
The bottom line, automation will never fully replace human accountants.
16. Michael Sena, Founder of Senacea
Automation will not replace all the accountants but transform the work they do. The repetitive workflows, like transaction processing or invoicing, are already being automated with & Visual Basic in Excel & robotic process automation software. Even mechanically document recognition is getting increasingly popular with the use of AI.
The less-specialized accounting positions will be partly replaced by accounting tech experts managing enterprise-level automation systems. On the other hand, accountants specialized in regulation will still be in demand as the need for strategic decision-making will likely increase.
Many professionals fear automation, but it is inevitable and ultimately, a beneficial change. It is fostering innovation, decreasing the risk of manual error, and bringing in more meaningful careers.
17. Daniel, Founder of Daniel Foley
‘Do I think that automation will replace accountants? My answer to that is simply no. An accountant is much more than a number cruncher; these brainiacs can do so much more than automation.
They will share wisdom and advice, and sometimes they might share information that only they would know to help our financial situation improve, things they have heard from other financial acquaintances by word of mouth.
Obviously, no human can work as fast as a machine, so they are ahead there. However, when we are talking about finances, isn’t it better to take it slower, so there are fewer mistakes and errors.
18. Carrie McKeegan, CEO and Co-Founder at Green Back Expat Tax Services
While there are apps and programs to assist with taxes, accounting, and financial planning, it takes the ability to react in a human way to provide solutions to many problems that are in gray areas. Not everything can be solved with predetermined equations or ratios. And when this fail, it requires a real person to spot a pattern, correct a mistake or negotiate.
We live in a day and age where we can watch automation build cars, houses and run just about every piece of technology you can think of. However, there will always be some things that require a human touch, and financial matters are definitely included on that list.
In order to remain competitive in this fast-moving world, you have to accept AI and implement it efficiently in the organization as a useful tool.
AI is spreading like the speed of light. As we see, a lot of industries have already incorporated AI in their business models to streamline the process, prevent fraudulent activities, and eliminate tedious tasks. And keeping in view the fact, sooner or later, AI will take over the accounting industry.
Consequently, accountants will get the freedom to focus on more real issues, such as focusing on dissatisfied clients using relationship building and problem-solving skills. AI will help them develop suitable strategies for the betterment of the organization altogether. It will let them analyze the AI data and take decisions accordingly, but not replace them.
As a business owner, do you often face difficulty selecting advanced accounting software to increase your accounting efficiency? Do you find it challenging to find suitable accounting experts who can utilize such automation-powered software at their best?
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