Due to technological advances, accountants have been worried that their relationships with small business clients can be affected. However, as per recent research studies from Xero, a cloud computing company, indicate that small business owners continue to avail the services of accountants, notwithstanding the advances in Artificial Intelligence and automated technology. The respondents were small-sized business owners, 512 in total, as per the Xero survey that was conducted by the MMR Research Associates, Inc. during May 14-17, 2018.
There is a general perception that due to AI and automation, several professions will be affected; primarily, the accountants will be the losers. As per a study by Mc Kinsey, by 2030, there could be a loss of around 800 million jobs; and the accounting profession will be hit most severely. [Read More: 10 Upcoming Technology That May Change The World]
Although, the Xero survey data suggests that small business owners are keen to work with accountants yet. This could be because accountants are highly trusted and can help businesses in riding the wave of change. [Read More: Rolltop’ Flexible Laptop Not A Dream Anymore – To Become Reality Soon!]
As per the study, the following were the findings:
- The advice of accountants is highly valued and can benefit small business owners in making their businesses compliant with technology.
- Advances in technology are not viewed as replacements for accountants in the world of small businesses. A large majority of the small business owners wants to continue working with their accountants, even though they are increasingly choosing to automate accounting processes through apps using AI.
- Accountants can play a valuable role in helping businesses navigate through the technological changes and making them realize the advantages of the use of technology.
As per the survey findings, AI and automation will not spell disaster for the accounting profession. Instead, the accountants can play an important role in the success of the smaller businesses. Technology in combination with people is the solution – and not technology alone.
Moreover, some industry experts opine that small businesses can succeed only if they work with accountants. During the initial years, if the small business owners do not work with an accountant, there could be hardships and also, business losses. On the other hand, availing the services of accountants can help the business owners in taking the right decisions and avoiding losses.
AI platforms can help in liberating the accountants from the routine tasks; and the professionals can focus on other interesting aspects of businesses such as forecasting and budgeting.
AI offers 2 primary advantages to accountants, as per Ryan Watson, who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Partner at Upsourced Accounting.
The work that the accounting professionals perform by hand can be handed over to automated systems. In turn, the accountants can divert their attention to tasks that they find interesting.
Accountants can counsel their clients on designing and implementing the varied technology options and AI solutions; as such, the professionals can increase their income flow.
However, there is need for accountants to devote time to studying the various aspects of technology and assist their small business clients accordingly. At first, the professionals must evaluate the areas that can be automated and then, take the required measures. They can start with the work streams – such as expenses, payroll, and accounts payable – that are crucial to the business.
Some clients may already be using automated systems; while others may not be, but are willing to invest in the medium. At first, a pilot group can be appointed for assessing the tools that can automate the processes for the clients. A good way of identifying suitable technology for the respective companies is through searching the ‘app marketplaces’ and also, networking with accountants who are carrying out similar research.
For helping clients navigate through the changes in technology, the accountants have to constantly identify inefficiencies, conduct research on technology, recognize pilot clients, and implement the technology. However, you must start early on advising clients on technology to become proficient and to take advantage of the given opportunity.