Will AI Replace Chartered Accountants Ultimately?
In 2015, a study carried out by the University of Oxford stated that the profession of accountant was strongly threatened by robotization. Even today, many people think that this profession is doomed to disappear.
In addition, the PACTE law modifies the thresholds for the appointment of auditors
downward, which would lose many mandates (clients) to the Profession.The fact is that new technologies have upset the landscape of accounting. As a result, some of the assignments that accounting firms had traditionally made (mainly accounting capture operations) are now automated.
But that does not mean that accountants will one day be unemployed? On the contrary, they still have good days in front of them for the simple reason that the profession is not limited to numbers.
The Profession of Accountant is more Complex than it Seems
Contrary to popular belief, the accountant does not spend his life locked in his office studying his account books. Above all, working in a client relationship oriented towards quality and interpretation, this professional figure does not just manage information and analyze finances. He is also listening to his clients. Moreover, it is especially there to advise and guide them in their strategic decision-making (entrepreneurs, among others, need its services to understand regulatory and legal developments) . In other words, the accountant is a true consulting partner and as such, he plays a key role in the heart of their business.
Is Technology, a Threat?
Yes and no. We are tempted to say that technology is a threat to the profession of accountant because with the new accounting software, digital capture solutions and other IT tools that are now available (blockchains, API banking , automatic document recognition tools, legaltech , ...), companies today have the opportunity to manage some of their own accounts . What's more, they refuse to pay dearly for tasks that can be automated. For example, it is no longer a question of being charged several hours of work for the entry of accounting documents.
On the other hand, we can say that technology is not really a threat to the profession of chartered accountant because the benefits we just talked about are mostly about repetitive and time-consuming tasks. The truth is that technology is particularly threatening to low-skilled staff (especially employees who are responsible for entering accounting documents that may eventually be assigned other tasks).
IT tools currently have no or very little negative impact on the profession of chartered accountant. Moreover, the Order of Chartered Accountants is unanimous on the subject: robots can not process all documents (simply because some of these documents may not be readable) or the complexity of customer requests . However, it is important to recognize that they will indeed lead to many changes in the profession!
How Robotics and Artificial Intelligence will Change the Game?
Once again, it is wrong to say that the profession of chartered accountant will disappear. In truth, it is the current form of this profession that will disappear. It must be said that the current trend is in search of fast services spending as little as possible, accounting firms will no longer be able to maintain high rates to do a job that the customer can do alone with a few clicks. They will have no choice but to review their pricing policy. Not that they will have to break prices, but rather reinvent how they will price benefits to customers, that is, set prices based on delivery types and not hours spent on the job (even if this is partly already the case).
To come back to the subject, robotization and the development of artificial intelligence are therefore not only a threat to the chartered accountants but a real opportunity. These technological advances simplify their work. They save time by freeing them from "boring" and routine tasks.
Robotics and artificial intelligence can also help accountants provide personalized services. Some firms, for example, use automation to better track their customers.
As you can see, technology represents a real opportunity for accountants who can now focus on customer relations and higher value-added activities in general . What offer better satisfaction to their customers!
One solution: Develop new Missions!
It would be completely wrong to think that the accountant could disappear and that it could be replaced by a robot, as smart as it is.
Far from being a new form of competition, automation, artificial intelligence and, in general, digital will change the profession and push the CPA to renew itself. And above all, they will allow him to concentrate all his efforts on the customer relationship. In order to compensate for the loss of turnover relating to the billing of low value-added tasks, they will now be able to develop new missions such as financing advice , insurance brokerage, or wealth management.
Some networks have understood this, like AHW for example, which already offers its accountants members dematerialization tools but also innovative solutions to develop other missions.