Apr 2017

How accountants will survive automation

By: Odyssey Automation
Tags: Automation, Bots, compliance

Remaining relevant suddenly takes on a sense of urgency with recent automation releases.

It’s pretty obvious by now that clients aren’t going to pay for someone to regurgitate the tax code, when they have access to the same tax code online.

Firms building their own compliance teams offshore are headed in the wrong direction. The push should be into automation, and not cost cutting. Trying to beat any software that has high volume, repetitive and predictable tasks is a losing game plan. This is clear.

Certainly there is plenty of reason to believe the conspiracy theory or a link between the tax authorities, the software providers and the tax payers to remove the accountants from the equation. Odyssey’s Twitter feed contains a comment by Rod Drury that: “Outsourcing always seemed like a broken software problem to me”.

There is plenty of press around to suggest that accountants won’t be missed either: “Robots will soon do your taxes. Bye-Bye, Accounting jobs”And yes while the article mentions US taxes, and automatic filing of tax returns is still a couple of years away. CRITICAL POINT: Automatic tax filing is only a couple of years away! And the technology developed in the US is already being deployed in Australia. Tax returns have a low risk, and the chances of getting things right are high as they are based on massive amounts of historical data on which a machine can base the conclusion.

Previously accounting was an information oriented profession, and accountants could resist as the data came from real world. But now this data is coming from auto data feeds. And machines now are clever enough to recognise voice, images as well as text. So driving cars and preparing tax returns are suddenly on the front line.

More recently, Intuit held a session on forming deep relationships with your client in a digital age which is regarded as critical given the increasing number of articles signaling the end of the accounting profession.

The push for accountants has to be into advice. And like ATM’s resulting in banks giving more advice, you can expect automation of accounting should also result in more demands for advice. Trying to beat any software that has high volume, repetitive and predictable tasks is a losing game plan.

Accountants should be moving into advice relating to personal context. Making use of the data that is available, and interpreted to a personal situation. All of this comes back to accountants showing real value and being the Trusted Adviser.