According to one recent report from Forrester it is predicted that robots and AI will replace up to 7% of all jobs in the U.S. by as soon as 2025, and Canada will probably be broadly similar to our Southern Cousins. PwC’s analysis, built on work undertaken by Oxford University, shows that 44% of Australian jobs are at high risk from computerization over the next two decades, and roles most likely to become automated in the next 20 years include accounting clerks and bookkeepers!
In the accounting industry I think we can all agree that we're already experiencing incredible leaps in technology; bots, Apps and cloud accounting solutions potentially make it easier than ever for small business owners to manage their accounting and bookkeeping tasks with the efficiency of large companies.
With all these changes, there is a shift in the role accountants play in working with their business clients as all these changes significantly cut down on many of the administrative tasks that take up a bookkeeper’s time. The days of spending hours manually coding from bank statements and source documents to general ledger accounts are hopefully over... And, this shift will accelerate as more businesses make the move to the cloud. Is anyone really sad at this news?
The question remains, in a business world barraged by new AI optimized apps and software revolving around Cloud Accounting and company bookkeeping, what impact will this really have for the professions of Accountants and Bookkeepers? Is this something to be frightened of? Are we all about to lose our Jobs?
For jobs spanning a long time period, the bookkeeper can periodically compare the costs accumulated and alert management when the costs are running over the estimates. This feedback provides for management to take corrective action either to get the costs under control for the rest of the project, or approach the customer for billing approval to cover some or all of the cost overrun.
Job costing takes a considerable amount of time and accuracy in the design and setup of the software and the processes needed in order to make it function effectively. By using the job costing modules within the bookkeeping software (QuickBooks, Sage, etc) us bookkeepers can run the process in a smooth and timely manner.
Making any assumption that job losses in the industry will be the conclusion of increased use of technology can only be based on the idea that entrepreneurs know how to use these new gadgets and tools in the first place! Ever since the Egyptians invented Accounting, there’s an inescapable truth with any system – “Cr&p in, Cr&p out!”
Whilst anyone can blindly enter numbers into a software program; understanding how to use that program, what figures to put where and why and what they mean when the machine calculates it’s verdict is the key. We’d even be tempted to say that it’s ESSENTIAL to have a seasoned professional working the machine, because they’re ideally experienced to say whether the figures churned out are “Relevant and Credible” – or indeed “Cr&p!” Knowing what the cloud is, does not mean you know how to leverage it to your full advantage, nor whether the results it is computing should be considered “The Truth.”
Certainly here at Green Quarter Bookkeeping & Accounting White Rock, we’ve decided that what the cloud accounting revolution really enables isn't a future where accountants are out of a job, Quite the opposite! We see a very real and valuable opportunity for accountants to help their business clients in ways that were not available even five years ago – because suitably tamed, technology should be eliminating the drudgery, liberating extra time, and giving analytical minds the tools to be able to help and advise clients better than ever.
Well, in our opinion, “Yes” – it should do, however as it can be put diplomatically “I think We’ve identified a Training Need!” Considering the growing importance that the accountant of tomorrow can assume, by being willing and optimistic in embracing cloud accounting and value pricing with open arms, the emphasis must be on training. In this rapidly approaching vision of the future, even small to medium sized businesses will be able to afford powerful CFO advice without the cost of a full-time employee. Imagine if all the menial, time-consuming tasks in accounting are gone as a bonus of the automation process for the accounting firms who are “Early Adopters” and become proficient and well-trained first. In our opinion, this doesn't eliminate the need for accountants in business but actually empowers the better accountants amongst us to become “lean and value added,” let’s say “Indispensable” as a result of leveraging technology.
Think for a moment about how beneficial working off a single general ledger from anywhere, at any time and in real time is. Heads up Folks; the technology is here, allowing accountants to deliver more value-added, business advisory services beyond being “just bookkeepers.” Here at Green Quarter Consulting we can now tackle tasks like business planning, Cloud Accounting, controls, Job Costing succession and more. Better technology plus accounting experience creates better accountants, (if that’s how you roll,) helping better business owners to make more informed business and personal financial decisions.
“Yes” Again! For services like Green Quarter Consulting, working with small to medium sized business owners, the arrival of AI and robot accounting is less about "What should I do now my Job can be given to a machine, putting me out of a job," and more about, "Now that X, Y and Z can be automated, how can I can change my job for the better and for a brighter future."
When technology advances, there is more than enough evidence to prove that businesses really have a lot to gain when a symbiotic relationship can be established between the past and the future. Technology empowers accountants and in turn, accountants who “Pick up the Ball,” are going to demonstrate that their teams are the ones that will Win!
"The more accountants and small business owners can start collaborating as partners, businesses will start seeing better outcomes,” said Marc Wookie, a CFA who specializes in Business Strategy.
For all the major benefits that adopting technology can bring to the table, however, there two qualities that “real” accountants have that will never be replaceable: humanity and experience. Artificial Intelligence may be able to quickly crunch the numbers to identify the "smart" move, but how good is AI at identifying the "right" move for the right client at the right time? The humanity, experience and combination of the two provided by a great accountant is something they can never automate, never replace and never take for granted. Or at least not yet! Humans don’t only apply logic; they apply emotions and “Gut Feeling” – body language is something an experienced accountant or bookkeeper can and should “tune into.” If a business owner needs additional training, reassurance or to be asked additional questions before a particular strategy is fully adopted is something us Humans are still masters of.
Saved and Energized, hopefully!
Importantly too, something to take away from all this is that the opportunities we’ve highlighted won't just be for millennials. In fact, experienced accountants and bookkeepers with years of working with a broad mix of companies are probably the best qualified to take on this new “digital whizzkid” role. What might be a unique problem for one business is something a truly savvy accountant has already addressed with other clients many times over. With the latest technology empowering them to assist in bigger decisions beyond crunching the numbers, you will have a depth of know-how available for the first time.
Those who predict the future of accounting and bookkeeping often forget that humanity is about connecting with other humans. Just as a sword is useless as a weapon without a trained warrior holding the handle – in the battle of business, advancements in technology including Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Accounting are nothing without the emotion that experienced, passionate and driven (and human) accountants and Bookkeepers bring to the table.
To sum things up, “There’s Life in the Old Dogs of Accounting and Bookkeeping yet!”
At Green Quarter Consulting - Accounting and Bookkeeping Services for White Rock, South Surrey, Langley and Surrey BC, we are here to help! We can help you with navigating through how AI is a great tool with the help of our exceptional human resources for bookkeeping and accounting.