Change when being disruptive can cause threats for traditional business models. But at the same time, new opportunities may come about it. One of such changes is big data and artificial intelligence, and how it may impact the world of finance and accounting.
In a world where everything is going digital, where a child born the next decade would never need to handle physical cash, implies a huge restructuring to the world we live in today. There would be no need for the likes of cash, receipts, audits or record keeping like how we know of, and here’s why.
Over the decades, accounting and financial software has become easier and easier to use, beginning with the established financial spreadsheets you can commonly find on Microsoft Excel. Today, compounded with continuous improvements, financial software can automatically keep track of taxes, transactions, and digital receipts to name a few. Its features have become user friendly, opening themselves to a market that has previously been reserved for the financial savvy, and the fact that has become increasingly cost effective has seen its popularity and usage rise from the number of start-ups, individuals operating in the Cloud, and other businesses.
The key topic in question here is automation, where computers begin to take over tasks that have been previously been left to humans. Software connected to the web can now automate the tedious time consuming roles of entering transactions by downloading digital information from various corporate institutions. As of now, only cash and checks need to be entered by hand, but with the increasing rise of digitation, that too will be a thing of the past.
However, that sort of automation is not really what will make huge waves in the professional world of finance, automation and machine learning are expected to take over tasks such as audits– computers are now getting really good at rigorous checking of financial information, trend analysis– many high paid professionals are relied upon at making financial market predictions, computers however have become increasingly more time efficient and maybe better, risk management– computers are already getting to be very effective at detecting fraud, and regulatory compliance– as regulations naturally get more complex, computers could be needed to ensure transactions comply with reporting regulations.
The first thought when people read this is that this new age of digitation and technology will inevitably erase jobs, but some believe it will be a job creator. Like the times of industrialisation, comes a new era, which will produce more opportunities but will also see an end to many ‘traditional’ roles. A little comfort at least, is that in the short run, companies will be reluctant to fully trust automation and computer to perform complex tasks entirely on their own, human oversight and expertise will be needed for some time to come. However, inevitably, in the medium to long run, you could see an increase in the presence of automation in the world of finance, where most of the accounting processes will be fully automated and where machine learning will prepare accounts and submit them autonomously. At the same time, audits will be carried out by artificial intelligent and be verified by yet another machine learned AI software.
This all comes across for current financial and accounting professionals, as well as prospectus students wanting to breaking into the field of finance as incredibly daunting. The only substantive advice from the future prospects about the industry is to focus your efforts into roles and department that are very hard to automate such as advisory, or anything that required a human connection, rather than simply number crunching. At the same time, it is of utmost importance that we face the new reality and learn how to work alongside software tools and AI. By doing so, and not trying to compete against it (which is a losers game), you all will hopefully find a secure career path in the future.