Accounting Careers and Automation

Consolidations accounting

Accounting careers are one of the best bets for young professionals looking to learn a trade. Accounting jobs are in consistently high demand and have better than average pay prospects. However, as technology changes so will accounting careers.

Accounting has a bad reputation. Accounting careers (and accounting education) can be seen as a bit dry and lacking creativity. While we don’t really buy this at The Accounting Path, we know that perception exists. So how will that change with big shifts in the economy driven by Artificial Intelligence, automation, and robotics?

Harvard Business Review recently published an article on “Knowledge Jobs” that will change with more automation and artificial intelligence. This category include accounting careers, from auditing to compliance and more. The article, which is well worth a read, says that jobs which rely on evaluating rules and patterns will change the most. It specifically calls out compliance careers and tax accounting as examples. However, it also makes a big distinction about how these jobs will change – they will be more focused on decisions and analysis, and less on blind rule following. To us, that sounds like we’re starting to shake up the traditional world of accountants.

Take a tax accountant today, all of whom have a multi-year accounting degree and further qualifications. Historically, these careers have had a heavy emphasis on line-by-line reviews of documents to spot anomalies based on a rules (e.g., tax guidelines). With greater automation and artificial intelligence, these jobs will up-level to require greater analysis and judgement. Instead of working through pages of transactions, an accountant might be presented with a series of suspect entries by their computer program assistant. Working on these prompts, our accounting professional can spend most of their day analyzing these issues to get a solid recommendation, rather than burning their talents on mundane activity.

HBR’s article neatly summarizes this point, concluding that “employers, we insist, should implement cognitive computing solutions not so that they can make do with fewer people, but to enable their people to take on bigger challenges and have greater impact than they did before”. We agree. Certainly, this is a change from today’s status quo, and it will mean shifts in the labor force that we can’t yet predict. For the best talents, however, this will present a huge opportunity. A way to get support in your accounting job that helps you think more creatively and drive stronger business results.

Are you interested in learning more about accounting and accounting degrees? Try our accounting school search page here to find a program in your area.