The future of finance is happening now. In our recent Leaders in Finance Survey, we asked hundreds of CFOs and FDs across the Tech, Media and Consumer sectors how they thought AI would impact their teams over the next 1-2 years. The good news for those building a career in accountancy is that while at least 50% think they will need to up-skill their existing team and/or they will need different skill sets less than 7% envisage needing less people. This reflects the insights we gained from our expert panel at our Digital Innovation in Finance Event earlier this year – the gains from AI and emerging technologies don’t necessarily mean we’ll have smaller teams but they will definitely look different.
So what will accountants be doing in the future and what skills will be required to thrive during and post this period of digital disruption?
Firstly, what you’ll be doing less of – tedious, manual work. Although automation in finance is nothing new, AI has turbo charged the shift away from human involvement with monotonous and repetitive tasks which computers can do more quickly and accurately. This means that data entry, payroll processing, managing invoices along with many other mundane tasks will not be part of many accountant’s roles in the future. This process is already well underway and over 70% of those finance leaders across all the sectors we surveyed believe that AI will have a significant impact on these areas in the near future.
Accountants as Analysts & Story Tellers
AI technologies are equipped to handle vast amounts of data at lightning-fast speeds. Accountants can leverage AI algorithms to process financial data, identify trends, and extract key insights. With the help of AI-powered analytics tools, accountants can gain deeper understanding and generate real-time reports, enabling them to make data-driven decisions more efficiently. This shift towards data-driven decision-making will require accountants to develop skills in data analytics, interpretation, and visualization.
Accountants as Strategic Advisors
As AI takes over routine tasks, the role of accountants will transform into that of strategic advisors. With their expertise and insights, accountants will be able to provide valuable guidance to organizations, helping them make strategic financial decisions. Accountants will need to develop skills in areas such as financial forecasting, risk management, and business strategy to adapt to this changing landscape. They will become more involved in analyzing financial data and providing actionable recommendations to drive business growth.
Accountants as Gate Keepers
The increased reliance on AI in accounting also brings about ethical considerations. Auditing processes, for example, can be enhanced through AI’s ability to detect anomalies and patterns in financial data, improving the accuracy and efficiency of audits. However, the ethical use of AI must be monitored closely to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and maintain public trust. Accountants will need to have a strong understanding of AI technologies, ethics, and governance frameworks to navigate these challenges effectively.
What you can do now to future-proof your finance career
As AI continues to reshape the accounting profession, accountants will need to acquire new skill sets to stay relevant. For instance, they will need to develop expertise in AI technologies, data analytics, and emerging accounting software. Strong analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills will become increasingly important in order to interpret and present complex financial information effectively.
The rise of AI is drastically transforming the future career path of accountants. While AI will undoubtedly automate routine tasks, it will also open up opportunities for accountants to assume more strategic roles. Developing skills in areas such as data analysis, financial forecasting, and business strategy will be crucial for accountants to thrive in this evolving landscape. With the right combination of AI and human expertise, accountants will be well-positioned to provide essential financial insights and guidance, ensuring their continued relevance and value in the business world.