CIMA: Accountants confident robots won’t take their jobs

THE majority of finance professionals support the rise of automation despite warnings that accountants are among those at the highest risk of job losses as a result of their roles being automated, a survey by CIMA has found.

The poll of 1628 CIMA members found 83% of finance professionals support automation, while 62% of management accountants believed their companies would become more efficient as a result of better automation and data analysis.

Around half said that the skills of the workforce will improve due to needing advanced computer skills.

Andrew Harding, CEO of CIMA, said, “New technologies will make lives easier. Ever since the invention of the printing press – which led to unemployment for scribes but opened the door to mass education – a short-term shock but deliver long-term benefit. The challenge for businesses is to use change to their advantage.”

Only 29% of those surveyed believe that automation will lead to job losses and inequality, despite findings from Deloitte that more than a quarter of jobs in the business services sector are at high risk of automation in the next 20 years.

Regarding future changes, 86% of respondents said management information will become automated, followed by 55% for process based aspects such as auditing. More than half believe that interpreting data will be increasingly done by software. However, the majority said that consulting decision-making support and advice cannot be replaced by automated processes.

Harding continued: “While it’s possible to imagine technological advances leading to mass redundancies, the world’s finance departments have a less alarmist view. Our members believe that artificial intelligence, robots and other technologies will alter, but not destroy, the jobs of accountants and other professionals. Organisations need to examine their business models and turn innovations such as AI and automation into an opportunity not a threat.”

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