The Impact of AI on the Accounting Industry

As of artificial intelligence (AI) evolves, its potential to handle not just routine and menial tasks but even complex responsibilities—which were originally under the mandate of the most learned professionals—is becoming clearer. One area where this transition is prominently visible is accounting, within which AI is set to bring a revolution to how professionals practice their trade.

AI and the Role of Accountants

Accounting has long been a domain requiring strong knowledge of regulations, financial reporting, and tax planning, something beyond the reach of even highly sophisticated computers and computer applications. Well, at least until now.

AI systems can analyze big datasets much faster and more accurately than their human colleagues, make predictions on tendencies, or even give insight based on the provided historical data. It is actually a quality that is revolutionizing even high-level decision-making processes and not just low-level tasks, such as data entry, at this time.

A recent report by the BBC noted that the integration of AI in accounting is growing, turning things upside down for the profession. AI technologies today are contributing to automating audits, preparations of payroll taxes, and compliance reports that, until now, required hours of human time to complete manually. For instance, AI can review thousands of transactions within a fraction of the time a human being would take, often with a much lower error rate.

The news is not necessarily all bad for the accounting profession. AI is not only automating tasks but also enhancing the strategic role of accountants. That is to say, AI can enable accountants to provide much more strategic advice and decision support to clients’ businesses, taking most of the drudgery out of time-consuming repetitive tasks. This promises to change the role of the accountant from just crunching numbers to the level of a business advisor who applies predictive analytics and financial modeling for forecasting future trends, giving advice for business strategy.

As AI technology continues to advance and take on more and more human responsibilities, the work of accountants is likely to become even more advisory—towards strategy and interpretation, away from processing data. Accounting AI tools have the potential to make accountants’ advice even more valuable by enabling them to offer clients all-round, more future-focused solutions. Although in the initial stages, AI might be perceived as a disruptive innovation, eventually, it will enhance the accounting profession to such an extent that the profession will become dynamic and an integral part of successful business. The critical success factor for professionals in this shifting landscape is being able to use AI to make one’s strategic value increase and not seeing AI as a rival. This would ensure that their roles are preserved while ensuring that they continue to impact business outcomes for the better.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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