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Are the robo accountants coming?

Posted on June 22, 2016 10:00 am;

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By Rebecca Langdon


There have been a lot of recent articles in the press about the onslaught of various ‘robots’ that are

going to replace professional jobs. The Boston Consulting Group has predicted that by 2025 up to a

quarter of jobs will be replaced by technology, whether that be smart software or robots. There is

clearly a fair amount of scaremongering going on, and it is questionable how far technology can go

to replace employees. One of the particular professionalisms which has been seen to be at risk is

accountancy. However automation in accounting is not new and we have moved a long way from

paper ledgers to complex accounting systems which integrate seamlessly with other systems.


What about robo advice?

Robo advice is a neat new term which has many individuals within the financial services sector

panicking that they will be replaced by some kind of cyborg. According to Deloitte, “Digital,

automated advice will likely become a standard expectation for the mass-affluent and mass-market



Barriers to robo

  • Many customers do not want to interact with a computer when taking important advice

regarding their finances. People take comfort in other people and their wealth of

experience, and their accolades. Relationships are important in all professions, including

accountancy, with many customers working with their Accountant for many years and

building a foundation of trust.

  • As it stands technology still struggles when it comes to a huge amount of variables and

subjectivity. Although we will undoubtedly see this barrier erode as big data, the power of

algorithms, and, artificial intelligence develops.


Should you still consider a career in accountancy?

The short answer is yes but let me explain further. Over time many professions have feared the

development of technology, but in reality the shape of the profession changed but did not disappear

altogether. I do think that jobs will shrink in the less skilled areas of accountancy such as AR and AP,

and even basic financial advice. However this should represent a more interesting time to be in

accounting, where the more mundane tasks are managed by a ‘robo’.

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