Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been hot topics in the profession for a while. Will machines replace what we do? And do business owners still need an accountant?
Xero and other cloud accounting packages have kick-started the move. With features such as bank feeds, bank rules, expense receipt recognition and so on, bookkeepers and accountants are finding that already there is less “manual” work to be done.
This has not fully kicked in though. These features do take careful consideration to set up effectively, and you do need a good level of knowledge to ensure you will not have a years’ worth of errors after thinking it was all being done for you in the background!
However, the road is being paved as we speak. With add-ons such as receipt bank and auto-entry, you can take a photo of your receipts and invoices and the rest is taken care of for you…sort of.
What does this mean for accountants?
It means we will soon find ourselves out of a job and homeless.
Ok, not really. But what it does mean is we either must jump on the wagon now, embrace it, learn it, develop it and be a part of the change, or get left behind and sadly go out of business sooner than expected!
What does it mean for businesses and business owners?
Well, this will depend on your industry.
We have already seen industries such as manufacturing be hit hard by this, a known example being the car manufacturers. We have all seen the TV adverts showing fancy robots constructing a car without the presence of a human!
Do I need an accountant?
It’s tempting to think that now that technology is here to help us, you can just use an app to do your own accounting and not need an accountant. That might be true if you are a sole trader or a freelancer and you know a bit about finance and accounting. In most cases, however, you are likely to be losing money if you don’t hire an accountant.
Accountancy is much more than just crunching numbers. So if you are wondering “Do I need an accountant for my small business?” or “Why do I need an accountant?” the answer is yes, you need them if you want the peace of mind of knowing that your business is fully compliant and, especially, if you want to grow your business and make sure you are doing things right. And now that automation is affecting many industries, we are prepared to transform your systems and get your business ready for the digital age.
Which industries are safe?
Well, in all honesty, who knows? For now, it is hard to imagine robots providing psychology appointments, cutting your hair or pulling your teeth, although, I guess anything will become possible!
It is the more personal, emotional and creative jobs that will probably be safest for the time being. Jobs that require a human touch. Nurses, Sales Managers, Writers, Graphic Designers etc. For now, robots don’t have emotions or thoughts/feelings as such. They can’t make up stories, they can’t empathise with patients.
Even jobs and businesses that require call outs such as electricians and plumbers should be ok for now. These areas are more at risk of products being developed to enable DIY solutions, I am sure you have been called out to these types of situations already.
The move however is already shocking, with robots performing surgeries, cooking fast food, and telemarketing.
I am likely to be at risk, should I change career?
There are two approaches.
1) Accept the inevitable and wait to be out of business. Find a new business/job at that point and hope it doesn’t hit you too hard financially.
2) Accept the inevitable and embrace it now! Plan, strategize, lead the way in your industry and think about how you can use it to your advantage.
Robots and machine learning could give you a fantastic advantage. It could help increase capacity and efficiency, maximise profits, reduce costs.
This is the best frame of mind to have. Plan now before it becomes too late.
Steele Financial can help you from a financial point of view. Let us transform your systems and bring them into the digital age. From POS systems, booking systems and digital quotes, to project tracking, cloud bookkeeping and much more!
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