By FCPA Fredrick Riaga,
Today, technology continues to disrupt practically every industry from accounting to whichever profession that captures the imagination. No industry is entirely immune to the impact of technology. In the face of these disruptions, some industries are more prepared for the changes than others.
Undoubtedly, the advancement of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to disrupt the accounting industry. For accountants who use technology well, automation can take over some of the mundane, time-consuming tasks. Accountants offering advisory services spent most of their time processing information — just the sort of thing automation is built for.
With the emergence of AI, repetitive, laborious, and time-consuming procedures are avoided, allowing bookkeepers, accountants and business owners to spend less time updating Using Artificial Intelligence for Efficiency in the Accounting Profession ADVERTORIAL their accounts and more time on other vital responsibilities. The AI algorithms have the capabilities to produce classifications or predictions using statistical approaches, revealing critical insights that then drive decision making within applications and enterprises, ideally affecting key growth metrics. So how is AI, particularly Machine Learning (ML), making an impact on the accounting industry?
To illustrate how ML is relevant in Accounting, examining the prerequisites that make a competent accountant is key. A bookkeeper, for instance, may handle simple accounting needs, but for bigger or more complex accounting tasks, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is more resourceful.
That being said, attention to detail is essential as accountants are expected to notice subtle errors or anomalies in a corporation’s accounts and raise a red flag. They are supposed to think logically to solve problems, using math skills that are less vital than in past generations due to the widespread availability of computers.
Professionals know that computers are not as intelligent as humans, but because they can process data much faster than humans, they can reach conclusions quickly and with high accuracy. In the world of AI, accounting software is getting smarter and is already executing tasks that previously required human intervention. One example of AI technology that may become increasingly prevalent in accounting is robotic process automation (RPA)
RPA allows businesses to send certain tasks – inputting expenses into spreadsheets or scanning receipts for expense reporting purposes – over to robots that perform them faster than man-operated machines can manage while making fewer mistakes.
Likewise, future technologies will impact on auditors’ jobs. Currently, auditors only examine a subset of transactions, employing big teams of accountants who work long hours to complete audits on schedule. The large volume of transactions that pass through businesses restricts the number of transactions that auditors can review manually.
According to PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC), AI algorithms can analyze and review data, identify abnormalities and compile a list of outliers for auditing. Auditors can use their skills to investigate and deduce the cause of a pattern or anomaly instead of spending the majority of their time examining data. This will enable them to audit 100% of a company’s financial transactions.
Lately, the accelerated development of AI has seen the development of advanced artificial intelligence robots like Sophia who is now an assimilated citizen of Saudi Arabia. Sophia, a robot with internal architecture, has advanced software, chat and artificial intelligence systems designed for general reasoning. She is capable of imitating human gestures and facial expressions. She is also equipped to answer certain questions and engage in simple conversations. Cameras are embedded in her eyes, along with computer algorithms, to anable her to see things. The humanoid robot can track faces, maintain eye contact and recognize people.
In future, the world will witness the emergence of many “Sophias” who can perform logical tasks. In fact, there are possibilities that such robots could be programmed to do what accountants do on a day to day basis. Who knew that the traditional taxis would lose market with the emergence of Ubers.
As accountants go about their profession, they should expect big technological changes in the finance industry over the next few years, and so this calls for skill upgrade to remain afloat in the competitive job market.
CPAs who have made a leap forward are taking advantage of the efficiency of AI software, enabling them to spend more time on analysis and strategy. These CPAs are a cut above the rest, taking an active role in planning, identifying risks and opportunities and guiding the company to success.
Those lagging behind will need to upgrade repertoire skills to maximize the potential of AI and serve their clients better. Better automation means better data for CPAs to work with and analyze, and the client gets to reap the rewards.
Experts hope that the AI technology will make CPAs more effective and productive, allowing them to deliver greater insight and business advice to their customers at higher speeds and precision.
FCPA Fredrick Riaga, Chief Executive Officer, Public Sector Accounting Standards Board