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Will accounting become automated?

Some articles that I've read claim that accounting will become automated in 20 years. I've also read that automation will merely decrease the need for accountants and/or make their workload easier. I don't want to enter a career in an obsolete profession.

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Thomas’s Answer

Many experts believe that accounting will become increasingly automated in the future. Technology is already revolutionizing the accounting profession, making routine tasks easier and freeing up accountants to focus on more strategic tasks. Even complex financial analysis can now be performed quickly and easily with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools. In addition, blockchain technology is beginning to change the way businesses keep track of transactions, making accounting more efficient and secure.

It’s not just routine tasks that are being automated – new accounting software is also capable of performing more complex analyses. For example, predictive analytics can be used to forecast cash flow and identify potential areas of financial risk. I work in AI, and I think there will still be a lot of accountants but their job will look very different than it does today.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Genevieve
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Scott’s Answer

Yes and this goes beyond accounting but the industry will still need people as the automations will take over basic and repetitive tasks freeing up people to work on more complex problems.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to answer my question! Genevieve
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Lanting’s Answer

Hi!

It depends, it depends on what you try to do with accounting, are you trying to balance the sheet, like create some entries, or you are on a more creative side where you want to decide whether to treat something as income receivable/inventory/research& development for tax/reporting purpose. If the former, yes, I have personally work on two projects in the past to automate the accounting process and we are able to have the machine did what an accounting will spend days doing in 3 minutes. The later part is much more tricky and is the real essence of accounting, so I would say part of accounting will be replaced in short time, while the more advanced part of it is less likely
Thank you comment icon Thank you Lanting! Genevieve
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Tafadzwa’s Answer

With the introduction of technology some repetitive tasks in accounting will be automated however not all of them. There are some aspects of accounting such as the use of estimates that require judgement and that in my opinion has not been automate.
Thank you comment icon Cool! So basically, automation will make my job easier. I'm always in favor of that! Thank you! Genevieve
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Tyler’s Answer

Another great question. While many components will be automated as technology will continue to change every industry, there's always going to be a need for accountants. There's of course many different types of accountants - a accountant focused on tax law will always be needed as someone will need to be the interpreter between tax law and clients (what is and what isn't lawful). Many fields employ accountants who do more of the analysis and less of "crunching the numbers". This type of accountant will always be needed as well.
Thank you comment icon Whew, that's a relief! Thanks again! :-) Genevieve
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Ayush’s Answer

Hi,

I think this a great question. If I am to believe that your fears are right and you are entering a field which will become obsolete in 20 years then I would rush into this field. Simply because 20 years is a long enough period for me to become a subject matter expert in accounting and command whatever money I want to oversee or consult companies on accounting automation. I wish someone had told me 20 years back the technology that will be prevalent today and I would have worked the last 20 years to become an expert in it. So don't fear automation, embrace it. You have a long journey ahead of you and a golden opportunity to lead the automation revolution of accounting. Become familiar with processes which are mundane and repetitive (which can be automated easily) and then try to automate them on your own. All these experiences will add up over time and you will be in demand everywhere when automation catches up. This revolution will need far more smart accountants than smart engineers and you can be one of them.

My personal belief is that accounting has a lot of areas where subjectivity is involved and those processes are really complex for any sort of AI to perform. Also, automation may work for smaller or newer companies who will buy the new systems and implement from the beginning but for older companies or the ones having operations across the globe, automation will take a lot of effort and time. Lastly, accounting is not a huge cost for any large company so their inclination towards spending capital expenditure to automate it may not be there as the penalty of inaccurate accounting is exhorbitantly high.

So all in all, I believe you are in a great spot and will do fine regardless of automation taking over accounting. You can shape your career depending on the trends you see and the question you asked shows us that you are a critical thinker, so all the best!
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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