What do you think of when you hear the term ‘artificial intelligence‘. Do robots spring to mind? A future full of possibilities in which you can do so much more in the same space of time? What about the way jobs and careers will be different?
We chatted to Christopher Salvidge from Turning Point Accountancy Services about how AI is making an impact on the accounting profession and why firms need to get on board with it.
The importance of AI
According to Salvidge, accounting is traditionally a process and systems-based industry where micro decisions are made every day.
He said: “Artificial intelligence allows scalable decisions to be made for repetitive high volume tasks, allowing accountants to focus on providing quality advisory services which add value to a business.
“This enables costs to be cut, quality to be improved and accountants to focus on adding value to a clients’ business.”
Clients want much more from the accounting industry than they did ten years ago. They expect their accountants to add value to their business as well as making their life simpler.
“AI can help with all of this. For example, here at Turning Point Accountancy Services we are aiming to bring in as much technology as possible to improve and enhance our services.
“AI is just a small part of this. It is therefore essential that accountancy firms start working with technology firms, such as The Robot Exchange, to advance the accounting industry and help our clients get ahead.”
How can AI change the accounting industry?
According to Salvidge, “AI could be the biggest invention since the calculator by going beyond a calculation and actually assisting with processing the data.”
He believes accountancy will change drastically with the onslaught of this technology because it has such a high volume of repetitive processes. The quality of what the industry can offer will hugely improve because human error will lessen and even go completely in some areas.
Salvidge added: “I believe we will also see more specialist uses of AI in the accounting industry as technology firms and accountants collaborate to find innovative solutions for accountancy practices clients.”
How will AI affect current accountants?
Salvidge said: “The work that accountants do will change.
“Gone are the days of pen and paper schedules – that is certain! In contrary to this, high quality accountants will become even more relevant. Whilst AI will change the way work is done, this does not necessarily mean accountants will be out of touch. The power of the relationship with a client will become even more important.”
Even more than ever before, accountants will need to focus on how they can add value to their clients rather than allowing themselves to be viewed as just a number cruncher.
“We predict that the advisory services will become more important to accountancy practices. It is also important to consider the future entrepreneurs – the younger generation expects automation and data to be available immediately.
“This is a challenge for many accountants as they are limited by the amount of staff – automation solves this by creating a scalable platform that can match demand more easily. The role of accountants can therefore help identify investments, acquisitions, driving IPO’s rather than managing receipts and invoices.
“AI is currently in its early stages in the accountancy sector however AI is going to radically change the accountancy industry as well as many others and not just for accountants in industry. The applications vary from chatbots assisting with customer facing roles, ecommerce business promoting product based on the weather and companies, stock level management in distribution companies and smart time management.
“The possibilities are endless. I think that what we will see is that this technology will also impact both small and large businesses too making it even more important to be a dynamic business no matter the size or industry. The limit to AI is down to how creative we can be with this new tool.”
How will AI change the accountant’s future?
Salvidge pointed out :”The ability of accountants to focus on using their skills to drive business benefits for clients will be the key to the use of AI in the accountancy industry. With the new applications, we expect ever increasingly complex decisions being made by AI from posting invoices to the correct account automatically to alerting accountant when a client is showing signs of cash shortage.
“By using various integrations, AI will be able to pull data from various sources and process this is into high quality management information. Client are expecting more for less therefore accountants need to be able to keep up with this demand.
“AI can help with this by providing greater insights and, combined with digitisation, allow clients to have real time, insightful view of their finances. Clients will no longer need to wait until their year-end accounts have been prepared to see how they are performing.”