Are accountants an endangered species?

Much has been made of the idea that accountants will no longer have a role in the very near future. This idea is attributed to increasingly fast developing technology and artificial intelligence.
Processing of bank statements, invoices, into accounts or into accounting systems is becoming more automated and efficient with the entry and constant development of online tools such as Xero. In addition we are seeing some intelligence that is increasingly intuitive and able to learn.

The accountant professional should always have been more than a processing machine. If all you require from your accountant is processing for tax purposes, then yes, perhaps an accountant is or will no longer be required. However, this is more of a bookkeeping role than an accountant’s role. Even if relying on software or technology for this, the age old adage crap in, crap out is very relevant. At least for now, an accountant should be reviewing this for the crap factor.
Your accountant should know you and your business beyond the numbers. They need to interpret and present the numbers to tell your financial story. A good accountant can identify any potential issues or opportunities in your business. For example a business dealing in many products or services should identify the margins of each – it could be that a business is focusing and spending in unprofitable areas in the business. In rare cases, they can help identify fraud or stealing. Your accounting professional is able to structure your financial affairs in the most effective way to meet your financial and life goals. This requires a relationship, not indifferent from a relationship with a doctor. Just as not everyone presents with the same symptoms to identify illness, everyone’s businesses, group structures, and financial goals are unique and personal. There are unlikely to be rules that fit every situation. A good accountant should be able to look forward, help with strategy, and operational efficiency – again, what is required varies with each individual business.

Video and record stores have largely gone due to technology but people still watch movies. Map books have been replaced with navigation devices and google maps, however people still need directions. The tools have changed. The objective remains. We as accountants see the significant advances in technology and AI as a positive change which will enable efficiencies in the process. This gives us more time to focus on the more important aspects of advising you to achieve your goals and enriching your life.

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