AI in Accounting

Will Accountants Be Replaced by AI and Become Obsolete?

by Envoice
8 min read

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Our daily lives are increasingly affected by Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. From smart homes to chatbots, in news generation and purchase prediction.

Even jobs have been susceptible to automation. Which can be a scary thought for accountants or any other profession. A study stated that accountants have a 95% chance of losing their jobs to robots.

But separate research done by the Brookings Institution has a more optimistic view on accounting jobs. It predicted that although occupations with repetitive tasks could be at risk of becoming obsolete, those jobs that require a high level of education – like accountants – are safe.

So, will AI reduce the need for accountants? That’s what we’re going to find out in today’s post. Keep reading until the end as we’ll also explore how accountants can future-proof their careers!

Will AI Replace Accountants?

No, it is unlikely for Artificial Intelligence to replace accountants. It may reduce the need for accountants to do process-driven or repetitive bookkeeping tasks, but not higher-value accounting tasks.

In the past, accountants focused so much of their time on minor roles, such as data entry, and less time on primary roles. The new technologies took over those, but human accountants are still needed in the following ways:

– Humans Need to Analyze and Interpret Data

While technology has already substituted some time-intensive manual accounting work, like expense management, tax preparation, audits, payroll, and banking, it remains unlikely that Artificial Intelligence will replace the human elements of accounting.

Trained human accountants will always be needed to analyze and interpret data. Their experience and knowledge cannot be replaced in viewing balance sheets, making educated judgments, or making cash flow forecasts.

– Businesses Trust Human Experience and Instinct

Another human element that cannot be replaced by AI is the human experience. Yes, an AI can evaluate numbers more quickly than an accountant but it’s totally different in terms of using past experience in making connections with clients. Both human compassion and human interaction are needed to assist clients.

An AI cannot understand the emotions that clients go through in building a business. It cannot look into that person’s eyes when they talk about their business. Moreover, human trust cannot be replicated by an AI.

Clients trust a firm because they know the people working there, their business, as well as their professional and personal goals. These are some things that an AI cannot just replicate. Accountants are still needed to guide business owners and businesses in making sound decisions.

Adding AI to Accounting Operations: What This Means for Businesses

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– Increased Efficiency and Accuracy

There are repetitive tasks in accounting that are prone to human error. This is understandable, especially when one is plugging in data all day. Sometimes, an item can be placed on the wrong line in a spreadsheet, gets duplicated, or a keystroke is missed.

Automating these tasks and using AI data will drastically reduce the amount of time required to finish them. Imagine spending just an hour a day to verify the numbers instead of the usual four hours without technology.

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As a result, accountants can focus on other types of work that require a higher level of thinking. Or those that are more strategic and creative for the company.

Envoice’s expense management software, for instance, allows accountants to extract data from all invoices and receipts. It is useful in covering the whole cost of the management process and helps decrease the processing time and bookkeeping costs. Accountants can then be notified through an automatic email and they will be the ones to approve or comment on the report. By automating the process, accountants can focus more on other business challenges.

[Related Post: 7 Reasons Your Business Should Be Working With AI Bookkeeping]

– More, Happier Clients

Increased accuracy and efficiency create a ripple effect in the accounting profession. It can lead to more and happier clients. With the time-consuming and mundane accounting jobs or tasks out of the way, accountants can do other work that is more strategic.

They can also respond more quickly to clients when they need reports or information. Or answer their concerns, like income and spend rates, suggestions for future actions, and trends across periods. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects advances in technology will mean 7% growth for accountants and auditors from 2020- 2030. The growth is partly because of the complexity of accounting jobs and there are responsibilities that AI, machine learning, or cloud computing are unable to do.

– Less Stress at Tax Time

For accountants, tax season can seem like an endless pile of transactions, spreadsheets, receipts, and forms to categorize to prepare taxes. Adding technology can help with all of that. They can eliminate data entry and perform reconciliation in real time.

AI will not just ensure that all numbers are accurately compiled, but that they are also optimized for tax purposes.

How to Future-Proof Your Accounting Career in the Era of AI

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If you are in the field of accounting or are currently studying to be an accountant, you should be ready to re-skill to develop your career.

Know that in the coming years, there will be changes to business models and the coming of new accounting technologies that will impact not just the accounting industry but the employment landscape in itself. So, here are a few ways you can future-proof your accounting career:

1. Stay Updated on Industry Trends

To avoid becoming obsolete in the industry, you have to be continually updated with the trends in the accounting field. You should make sure that you are aware and familiar with the new innovations. Through online accounting courses, workshops, or training programs, you can learn about accounting software and stay relevant in the accounting industry.

Emerging Accounting Technologies

Here are some technologies that accountants can use strategically to stay on the cutting edge of the industry:

  • Cloud Computing
    It is anything that involves delivering hosted services via the internet. The types of cloud computing are a software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
  • Blockchain Technology
    This game-changer in the financial sector is the decentralization and distribution of transactions across computer systems. It protects and saves data as well as updates the company’s records to make sure that the data given to each party is equal and credible.
  • Big Data
    Big Data is another crucial technology to make business financial decisions. It refers to data that is so large, complex, or fast that is impossible or difficult to process using traditional methods.
  • The intelligence of Things (IoT)
    This means the integration of AI technologies with IoT (a system of interconnected machines and devices). The Intelligence of Things helps accountants or finance professionals track records, transactions, and ledgers in real-time.

[Related Post: The 10 Best Accounting Podcasts for Accountants and Bookkeepers [2022 list]]

2. Constantly Seek Out Opportunities to Learn

A curious mind always asks questions. But those questions should help drive the growth of your career. As you move higher up at your company and gain more work responsibilities, you should not lose your innate desire to be curious about things and learn.

So, seek out opportunities to learn. And take on new responsibilities with your existing clients or employer. Put yourself forward when training opportunities arise. Also, do not miss important changes in the technology landscape because innovation will be a part of an accountant’s role, whether you like it or not.

We don’t mean overzealous adoption of technology because the company could just be wasting a lot of money on features they don’t even need. Instead, it is best to invest in or learn accounting software that enhances an accountant’s work.

3. Diversify Your Professional Network

One of the most important things you can do to future-proof your accounting career is to have a diverse network. Both professionally and personally. A robust network full of different people with different backgrounds and with varying career experiences will be a massive factor in your career.

These people will help you stay updated with industry trends and foster new ways of thinking since other people will have different viewpoints, resources, and insights, and have lived different experiences from your own.

Artificial Intelligence Will Help Accountants, Not Replace Them

So, will accountants be replaced by AI and accountants become obsolete? The short answer is no. Instead, AI will create more value for these accounting professionals. It will make the basic accounting tasks faster and be done more efficiently. It can likewise allow accountants to focus more on high-impact and high-quality tasks. This is the future of accounting.

Looking for a user-friendly accounting tool to improve your business’ financial management process? Check out Envoice today!


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