Digital disruption: how it will affect accountants and auditors

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Two recent articles highlight the dangers accountants are facing in losing there SME clients due to digital disruption.

On grow-strategy.com, author Shehan Wijetilaka writes that more and more business owners and managers are turning to cloud-based accounting services to look after the numbers and handle routine administration and compliance services. “They no longer need the services of a traditional bean counter.

“Instead, they want a strategic partner. Someone to understand the strategic nuances of their business. Someone to give them the know-how to drive it forward.”

She also refers to a PwC report published last year on the extent to which jobs are at a high risk of computerization technology, where accounting actually topped the list.

“PwC wasn’t surprised at the extent of digital disruption in the accounting industry. They had been planning for digital disruption for some time by offering new services.

“The cloud is not a fad. Users armed with smartphones and tablets have fundamentally changed everything forever. Yet while many accounting tasks are being automated, it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.

Instead of viewing digital automation as a threat, see it as an opportunity for value creation. New technology has both enabled and empowered accountants to provide more forward-looking services.

“For the accounting profession, digital disruption offers a value proposition like no other. As the traditional “trusted advisor” of the small business owner, disruption presents many opportunities to add value to your clients’ businesses.”

Read more about it here.

In another article on smsfadviser.com, founding director David Smith of Smithink 2020 says the most significant technological changes to impact the accounting profession in the next 5 to 10 years are mobile technology, big data and how accountants and their clients are going to connect.

“… if you look at Xero, MYOB, Class and BGL and all these companies, they’re essentially building enormous databases with lots of businesses’ data in the one database, and all these SMSFs (self-managed super funds) and all their data in the one database. That will allow those organisations to, at some point, benchmark themselves against the other businesses or super funds. That’s a whole concept of saying: we’ve got all this data, can we take this data and get more intelligence out of it to work out what I and my clients can do in business to be able to run a better business?” says Smith.

“Because you’re building these big databases it will enable accountants to provide that type of information to small business clients, which has historically been the domain of very big business.”

He says even auditors may find that judgements may be automated in future.

“I’m looking at a 10-, 15-, 20-year horizon… when you look at what’s happening with machine learning and artificial intelligence, I can see a time when two things are going to happen. The first thing that I think will happen is artificial intelligence and machine learning will get to a point that it will deliver to the auditor what they think the opinion should be..

Read the full article here.

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