What Role Do Accountants Play in the Age of Automation?

A discussion of the changes brought by automation and the impact they have made on the role of the modern accountant.

Automation has played a critical role in the advancement of financial technology, with tried and tested processes being replaced with modern, more efficient software. With all this innovation breathing life into businesses of all sizes and industries, the question may be asked about what role an accountant plays in the age of automation. Let’s discuss what the changes are, who they impact, and what an accountant’s role looks like in the modern era. 

What financial automation have we seen in the last few years?

Not surprisingly, technology has had a significant impact on accounting businesses, departments and professionals, many of which implicate an accountants role as we know it. We have seen changes to employee tax and wages occurred globally, allowing employees to report on this data more easily and more frequently, with employees accessing their own earning statements centrally and independently. These changes have led to a need for more sophisticated software, many of which feature other functions that improve efficiencies through automation. Businesses can now comply with new legislation and complete payroll responsibilities without tasking a greater number of employees to that task. Australia has even coined this legislation change ‘single touch payroll software’, capturing the ease of the automation process. Accountants no longer need to conduct manual tasks, with automation offering expense tracking, payroll and invoicing. 

Bots are another automation that is rolling out to industries beyond just eCommerce, with bots able to capture and respond to a range of enquiries, allowing accountants to not be hamstrung to administrative requests. This communication method can be built into a business’ website or social media pages, but won’t be relevant for all business sizes. Outsourced accounting and payroll services are another automation that allows businesses to hand their financial responsibilities to a third party, contracting rather than employing professionals. 

Accountants no longer need to conduct manual tasks, with automation offering expense tracking, payroll and invoicing. 

What are the benefits of automated accounting processes?

There is a misconception that enhanced accounting services will nullify the critical element an accountant plays within a business, but this is not the case at all. These automated processes simply make operations more efficient, often adding structure and simpler frameworks where there were none. Automation also assures a certain level of accuracy that can’t always be achieved manually, and this is a significant consideration when it’s concerning payroll and business revenue. 

It’s not only accountants that stand to benefit from automation, business owners are also attracted to this option. Accounting automation can reduce or manage a department/business’ headcount, and taking these tasks offsite means that employers don’t need to factor in the physical space nor the employee benefits that come with employing another accountant. Less time in the details means your accountant can be more strategic with their time, which is why outsourced options have been wildly successful.

What’s the future for accountants with automation continuing to innovate the industry?

Despite the automation that appears to be replacing certain accounting functions, the future is still bright for accounting professionals operating in organisations of all sizes. Automation innovations simply allow existing accountants to fine-tune their practice, implementing and optimising strategies with the mundane tasks taken care of. Whether accountants choose to implement software, outsource to a team or leverage reactive bots, one or all of these automation options can harness a greater output and overall performance of your business.

Automation is not something to be feared, as embracing its benefits can propel your business forward. Take a step back and assess what the growth plans are for your business, and explore what functions can be tightened in your financial sector. If there is an opportunity to enhance productivity and support your growth plans, trial some of these functions that are working effectively for those early adopters.

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