The 2019 AICPA/CPA.com Executive Roundtable recently took place in New York, where attendees heard from experts and discussed how accounting professionals can work more innovatively as technology continues to advance.
At the roundtable, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, referenced the 2018 World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, which lists accountants and auditors among the jobs most likely to decline due to automation. This, of course, assumes that the accounting profession will be slow to or simply not adapt as technology automates manual, repetitive accounting processes. However, looking at recent public opinion polls, the industry shows no signs of slowing down.
Accounting remains one of the most trusted professions out there; the Center for Audit Quality’s 2018 Main Street Investor Survey found that 80% of people trust independent audit committees, and 81% expressed confidence in public company auditors. Despite rapid technological advancements, the accounting industry continuing to be so highly trusted boils down to one simple fact: Technology can never replace human help and connection.
Many resources point to technology as a threat to the profession. On the contrary, technology creates even greater opportunities for accountants to accelerate their clients’ success and advise clients on using various tools and systems. The key to pursuing this opportunity? Education.
According to a study by the American Institute of CPAs, 92% of CPAs worry they are not future-ready. While futuristic accounting skills include technology-specific ones such as design and programming, other top skills in demand include critical thinking, creativity, originality, initiative, active learning strategies, analytical thinking and innovation. Developing these kinds of skills can help accountants grow along with the advances in technology and better serve their clients.
As the industry continuously changes, one thing is for certain: No matter what advancements are made in technology, there will always be room for human help, creativity and connection. By investing time and effort in developing certain skills, accounting professionals will be better positioned for this shift in technology and take advantage of all that it offers.
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