Learn automation systems or be left behind, professionals say

Learn automation systems or be left behind, professionals say

As automation systems and programmes become more widely-used across the accountancy sector, professionals are urging the industry to keep up with the changes.

Learn automation systems or be left behind, professionals say

Robots are taking your job. So, what are you going to do about it?

According to accountancy professionals (like the ICAEW and Modulr), you should be in classes, learning as much as you can from these proposed robot overlords. Rather than being afraid of technology, using it on your terms can become a powerful tool for your clients, your career and your wellbeing.

The robots being discussed are not physical, but rather unique pieces of software, and sometimes hardware, that are designed to do automated processes—hence why it’s often referred to simply as automation.

Automation has been making waves in the financial sector for years, and with the advent of blockchain and real-time reporting, clients have come to expect instantaneous results and digital communication from their accountants.

Major firms have been taking note of these digital developments—in India, EY, KPMG and Deloitte are working to hire a collective 63,000 digital professionals.

Working across advisory, automation, artificial intelligence and more, this recruitment shows a financially-backed need for STEM-educated (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) individuals within accountancy.

The move to a digital-first method of accountancy has been difficult, due in part to the ever-changing nature of technology.

What was taught five years ago may be inaccurate today, making continuing education extremely important for accountants looking to move forward in their careers.

However, accountancy is a long-lasting profession that has so far kept up with the demands of an ever-evolving society. As the world becomes increasingly digital-first, accountants need to follow suit—for the sake of both their clients and their job security.

Ahead of the game

Everyone, regardless of their industry, is afraid to lose their job, and accountants are no different. However, not every industry is facing the amount of automation that accountants are.

According to the interactive website WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com, accountants and auditors have an estimated 94% chance of becoming mostly automated. However, the accountancy field continues to grow, with a total growth of 11% projected by 2024.

The reality is that robots do well with numbers and checklists, two major players in the accounting industry.

However, as of now, robots have extremely limited AI capabilities, and humans are needed to make any logical or ethical decisions, making them invaluable.

The bits that robots do well with are generally things that accountants waste their valuable time doing—compiling lists or generic bookkeeping—so accountants should not be afraid of making their work lives easier.

At the latest AICPA & CIMA Women Leadership Conference Europe, AICPA’s executive vice president Clar Rosso explained that accountancy jobs were not going away, because humanity is still important within automation.

Rosso said: “You can use robotic process automation for looking to generate insights, and put a bit more on the cognitive skills. The World Economic Forum has a list.

“This is what it says is going to be relevant and important for you to know: critical problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgement, decision making, negotiation and cognitive flexibility.

“So those are really the kind of things that you’re going to need going forward.”

Don’t fear automation systems

The reality is that technology is necessary. From mobile phones to personal computers, the world stays connected via the internet, so knowing how to navigate technology is like a roadmap for a successful career.

Cloud-connected software has become a standard for clients to expect, so embracing automation systems can greatly strengthen a client relationship. Rather than ringing the office, a client can check their information from the comfort of their own home, while still having the option to talk to their accountant when the need arises.

Additionally, advancements are being made all the time, with more accounting bodies offering learning programmes for both new and existing accredited accountants.

While most jobs are requiring technological skills, they do not require an IT master—rather, they need an accountant who is willing to learn and work to understand the company’s automation systems.

Because automation is a continually evolving area, there is never a bad time to learn—or re-learn—related software and programmes. If you’re not sure where to start, check with your accrediting body for resources and guides on automation and digital skills.

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