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Is accounting a dying field – No, it’s not, and here’s why

A cluttered table with a laptop, notepad, coins and telephone. Written on the paper is "taxes"Source: Pexels.com

When choosing a career, it’s essential to consider the future of the industry you’re interested in. You don’t want to select a field with few job prospects, as this could make it challenging to find work in the future. 

So what is the outlook for the Accounting industry? Let’s dive in!

Who are accounting professionals?

Mention the word accounting and most people immediately think of tax returns and balancing ledgers. However, the accounting profession is much more than that. Accountants are also financial advisers who help businesses make informed decisions about their money. They also audit and investigate financial crimes. 

The accounting field is pretty diverse, and there are many different types of jobs out there. From data entry to auditing to budgeting, you can find a job that suits your skills and interests.

Why do people fear that the accounting profession is dying?

With the invention of software that replaces manual data entry, there are fears that such programs will take jobs away from bookkeepers and accountants.

For instance, thanks to software like Quickbooks, sending invoices and reminders is now automatic. Because people don’t have to manually send these out, it could seem like fewer accountants will be needed.

Human accountants, however, are still needed to interpret the data and guide the AI into making the right decisions. So, rather than the profession going into extinction, the role of an accountant will simply adapt and change.

The Future of Accounting – What the numbers say

So what does the future of accounting look like? The answer is: bright.

In the US, it’s estimated that over 1.4 million accountants and auditors are currently employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow by 7% percent from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. (1)

There are over 400,000 accountants currently employed in the UK, and the numbers are also expected to grow in the coming years. The accounting industry has contributed about £59 billion to the GDP of the UK in recent years. You can bet this is the case worldwide as economies grow and develop. (2)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests there will be over 135k job openings yearly in the US. In the UK, they estimate there will be an additional 80k job openings in the coming decades. (1)

Businesses will need more help managing their finances as the world becomes more complex. The business world is fast evolving, and accounting is growing with it. 

What changes will automation bring?

A white robot - Will AI take over accounting jobs?Sources: Pexels

One of the industry’s fundamental changes is the rise of new accounting technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and machine learning.

For instance, technology like OCR is taking over data entry tasks. Machines are being trained on what information to pick and what to disregard. In the process, AI-driven programs can handle large data sets in a heartbeat.

Big data is also changing the way businesses make decisions. With access to large amounts of data, companies can now make better-informed decisions about their finances. And accountants play a crucial role in helping businesses make sense of all this data.

Data analytics helps companies make well-thought-out and accurate decisions based on real-time data. For instance, companies can now use data analytics to venture into new markets or release new products. In the past, these reports were not as accurate, and companies relied on small data sets or used trial and error methods to make decisions. 

Does the world still need accountants?

Machines may automate some of the accountants’ tasks, but they cannot replace the critical thinking and decision-making skills that only humans possess.

Below are ways in which accountants are still relevant:

  • Future planning

AI is good at analyzing data and providing insights but cannot think long-term the way humans can. Only humans can help businesses plan for the future by considering different scenarios and making recommendations based on their findings.

  • Tax returns

Filing taxes is a complex process, and it requires human expertise. Tax laws are constantly changing, and accountants need to stay up-to-date on the latest changes. They also need to understand a business’s financial situation to provide accurate tax advice.

  • Financial reporting

Accounting firms are responsible for preparing financial statements for businesses. This critical task requires attention to detail and an understanding of accounting principles. 

Machines can do some of the work, but they cannot prepare financial statements independently.

  • Advisory services

Who do small businesses turn to when they need advice on cash flow, budgeting, and financial planning? Human accountants. They provide valuable insights and recommendations that companies can use to make better decisions.

  • Providing financial health checks

These checks need to be accurate and timely and who better to provide that than a trained accountant. 

With their technical know-how, they can look at a business’s financial statements and assess the company’s health. This helps businesses identify potential problems and take corrective action.

How AI makes your job easier

Yellow tiles spelling "the future" against a blue backgroundSource: Pexels.com

AI is changing the role of accountants. With the ability to automate repetitive tasks, accountants can shift focus to more advisory roles in companies.

Here are reasons why accountants and bookkeepers should continue to make good use of AI now and in the future: 

Effectiveness – AI bookkeeping is effective in handling a large number of transactions and accounting tasks at once. This is because machines can work for longer hours without tiring.

Accuracy – Compared to traditional accounting systems, AI bookkeeping is error-free. For instance, when using Envoice, businesses can ensure that their books will be accurate to the cent.

It also means that companies can avoid costly mistakes that could lead to penalties from the IRS.  AI bookkeeping software can go through a massive volume of data and identify errors and potential risks otherwise missed by human bookkeepers.

Time-saving – With mundane tasks cleared from the accountants’ plate, they can focus on other essential tasks. With access to more data than ever, they can use this time to help companies make sense of all the financial data and help them make the right decisions.

How accounting professionals can remain relevant

To remain relevant, accounting professionals must be open to change and adapt to new technologies. Here is how accounting professionals can ensure they stay relevant:

  • Get certified

An accounting degree is a great way to show that you’re keeping up with the latest trends in accounting. There are many different accounting certifications available, and each one covers various aspects of accounting.

Some of the most popular accounting certifications include;

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
  • AICPA Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The beauty of being certified is that it shows that you’re committed to your career. It also shows that you’re willing to learn new things and stay up-to-date with the latest trends.

If you’re not certified, now is the time to consider it. It will make a big difference in your career.

  • Use technology

As an accountant, you should be using technology to your advantage. Many great accounting software programs are available that can make your job easier. 

For instance, if you’re not already using a cloud-based accounting software program, now is to start. Cloud-based accounting software programs are becoming more popular because they offer many benefits.

Some of the benefits of using a cloud-based accounting software program include;

– Access to your data from anywhere

– Automatic backups

– Collaboration with clients and colleagues

  • Stay up to date with current affairs

As the world evolves, accounting professionals need to keep up with the latest trends, news, and developments in the industry.

There are several ways you can stay current. You can read industry-specific news sources, attend accounting conferences, and participate in online discussions.

Doing so  will help you stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant in your career

  • Continue learning throughout your career

The most successful accounting professionals are those who continue to expand their skillsets.

Many great resources are available that can help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends. You can take online courses, participate in webinars, and read accounting books and articles. 

Parting shot

The accounting profession has withstood the test of time and will continue to do so. It is a field that is here to stay. So, don’t believe the hype when people say accounting is a dying field. It’s not!

The profession is not dying; it’s evolving. 

And there has never been a better time to be an accountant. 

Simply integrate technology into your accounting profession, and you will be fine. Above all, don’t forget to keep learning new things and expanding your skillset. It’s essential if you want to remain relevant in your career.

Do these things, and you’ll be successful in the accounting profession.

Further Reading:

1 – Financial advisor vs. Accountant – What are the main differences?

2 – Controller vs. Accountant – What are the main differences?

3 – Is accounting stressful?

 

Article Sources:

1 – https://www.bls.gov

2 – https://www.ccab.org.uk