Accountants Aren’t at Risk of Losing Their Jobs to Robots – Here’s Why

The rise of new technologies and insistence that one day they’ll run the workplace seems to be an inevitable concept according to the headlines we’re bombarded with.

This seems especially true of the accounting industry, where data is the main game and handling this is what technology is being designed to do.

However, despite the insistence that accountants’ jobs will soon be at risk, we have reason to believe otherwise.

A report by the Financial Reporting Council declared that between 2012 and 2016, membership of UK and Ireland accountants grew by 2.4%. Worldwide this figure increases to 3.2%.

This increase suggests a higher need to have an accountant on side to help with tax affairs, business advice and financial forecasts.

While this doesn’t eliminate the fact that technology could soon surpass the speed at which data is input by people (and indeed already has) it does meant that there is a requirement from accountants for more than just number crunching.

Why we need accountants

Accountants have more roles than simply getting a set of accounts filed and helping businesses save money.

We’re seeing more and more that accountants are taking on an advisory role with their clients, especially with start-ups, freelancers and small business owners. Aside from the regular data entry and money saving, they’re able to offer valuable advice about the industry, how to operate and what could potentially affect them in the future.

For smaller businesses in particular this is a vital role and can even make or break their business – depending on how they use the advice they’re given.

More accountants in training

As well as an increase in the number of memberships to accountancy firms, the Financial Reporting Council’s Key Facts and Trend in the Accountancy Profession report reveals that the number of accounting students between 2012 and 2016 also increased.

There was a rise by 0.7% of accounting students in the UK and Ireland and 2.9% worldwide.

This slight increase means there’s certainly a good number of accountants ready to cover the advisory side of things and this shift in role is clearly not putting any future accountants off the position.

Online accountants making their mark

For the small businesses, freelancers and start-ups who can’t afford their own in house accountants like big companies can, online accountancy firms are invaluable.

Not only can they provide the same services as local accountants at a much cheaper rate, they can offer a wider variety of services too as they are more likely to employ accountants with different specialities to cater to different clients.

As an online accountancy firm, they’re also able to understand the increasing dependency on technology and are able to adapt to it easily, potentially more so than a local accountancy firm.

These factors make online accountancy firms an attractive option to small business owners, and as a result are a contributing factor to the changing landscape of small businesses.

Increase in cloud technology use

Another reason why some believe accountants are out of a job thanks to the increase in automation is because there has been a rise in the use of cloud accounting technology in the past few years.

However, rather than pushing accountants out of a job, they’re reliant on them to survive.

Cloud accounting technologies can help business owners become more independent in managing their accounts, but they still need an accountant to help them learn how to use the software and to keep up to date with the latest tax regulations that affect them – and then apply these within the software.

Join the conversation! Leave your comments and opinions on the rise of automation in the accounting industry in the comment section below.