What Accountants Must Do To Stay Alive
Accountants, bookkeepers and the likes are at a more than 90% risk of dying i.e. being replaced by automation. This is not new information and in fact, the study citing above risk is from 2014 and if you’ve read some of my previous articles you would know that I have also discussed this at great length. Before we take a look at what accountants must do to stay alive let’s first take a look at what’s threatening them.
- Automation: Accounting or at least the transactional part of it is quite rules based and can be automated. I’ve already introduced you to your robot accountant, Dixieand that’s just the starting point. All the basics will be automated.
- Outsourcing: Accounting is a support function and particularly in SMEs it could be viewed as something that’s not part of the core business and should be outsourced. To a large extent this has already happened and again is no news.
- Offshoring: Local staff is offshored to countries like India or China where large shared service centres are ready to take on the accounting tasks and will even allow companies to create centres of excellences that will both improve processes and production time. Again, this has also been going on for many years already.
- Cloud and mobile solutions: By moving the accounting into the cloud it will be possible for the business to do a lot more self-service allowing the accounting department to create efficiencies.
Now despite all this doom and gloom the US Bureau of Labor Statistics still predicts that there will be a significant job growth in the accounting profession! So how can that be you ask? Are they dying or spreading? Flourishing or flat lining? It’s all very confusing I get that so what’s causing the apparently expected increase in the need for accountants?
Globalisation, complexity, regulations etc.
While accounting as a basic subject is rules based and can be automated there are certainly forces pulling in the other direction as well. Let alone the whole regulation space with Sarbanes-Oxley, Eurosox etc. makes it a lot more complicated to do accounting but on the other hand if allowed many such controls can be automated as well. Then continued globalisation with M&A across borders etc. will continuously demand accountants who know how to handle the numbers in different financial regimes. New accounting standards will also need accountants with steady hands to ensure they get implemen