Are the robo accountants coming?
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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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