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How accountancy can thrive in the age of AI

big data analytics in auditing

The world is changing at a faster pace than ever, leading chief economist at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, to state that the disruption caused by the ongoing fourth industrial revolution would be “on a much greater scale” than that experienced during the Victorian industrial revolution. Technology is evolving and infiltrating different industries each day and the era of artificial intelligence (AI) is very much upon us. But do employees risk becoming “technically unemployed” with this rise of technology? Or instead, could accountancy thrive thanks to the rise of AI?

Change is in the air

The adoption of new regulations around mandatory audit firm rotation has stimulated competition in the market and caused real drive for the accountancy industry. The most progressive firms have identified AI capabilities as an important differentiator, but still appreciate that the best practice is a collaborative approach, one that augments human and artificial intelligence.

In the same way that the human brain cannot compute hundreds of thousands of data points in a split second, a machine cannot always understand the and context of real-world accounting. In combination, an accountant fueled by AI is turbo-charged to make faster, more accurate decisions, while having more time to focus on providing guidance, value, and insights.

Enhancing the practice

Although proactive firms are deploying AI to help drive efficiency, reduce risk, and increase quality in their compliance processes, there still remains caution in some parts of the market. Implementing AI to augment and support the practitioners in the accountancy world has shown how this technology can benefit the industry, so why is there still hesitancy? It’s a caution that’s driven by myth, misunderstanding, and misconception regarding the perceived black-box nature of artificial intelligence. Each is an unnecessary barrier to the progress all companies need to make if they’re to compete in the modern marketplace.

Often the adoption of AI tools remains hamstrung by the idea that they cannot integrate with existing technology and are complex to use, and this comes down to a misunderstanding of what’s available. The most effective solutions are affordable and designed to work easily alongside people. They’re designed to demystify AI and make them intuitive to use. Moreover, as regulators take an increasingly tough stance on audit failures, AI solutions are a long-term investment that can reduce risk, increase efficiencies, and improve the quality of financial analysis.

Collaboration, not isolation

In the age of AI, each company must become a technology company in order to defend and grow their market, including the financial industry. It is no longer a question of if the role will change, but how can accountants equip themselves with the necessary skills to thrive in the changing world. It’s time to forge forward and recognize that accountancy actually benefits from the rise of artificial intelligence, unearthing more of the risk in financial data, and providing greater assurances than ever before.

AI is not something for accountancy to fear; it’s something for the industry to embrace in order to enhance auditing practice, increasing accuracy and efficiency.

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