Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Qetesuesi

Is Accountancy Employment Really About To Be Decimated By Automation?

Recommended Posts

For some time I've assumed that accountancy was a textbook example of one of those white-collar professions ripe for plucking by the onward march/rush of technology.

But just recently my wife's friend's cousin (okay, okay) who is an accountant, said that she's having to turn work away, there's so much of it to do.

Any expert insights on the true present and likely-future state of play in this field?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I`m surprised how slowly it`s happened/is happening, but many of the functions are being slowly automated away. I`m in my late 30`s and expect to be able to keep working in management and project work long enough to see me into retirement, i`d be a bit more worried if I was a ledger clerk.

I think the technology exists now to automate most of it, but we need a generation of managers who aren`t comfortable enough with IT to die off/retire before people will accept it.

We had a thread a while back with as list of jobs most at risk of automation, and it`s something I`d be thinking about If I was youngster starting out.

Edit to add: link to thread http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=195338&page=1

Edited by SpectrumFX

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend who runs her hubbies company for him was saying that she still has an accountant to sign off the books but she does the VAT returns/books in her spare time in the evenings mainly she says as a result of the software obviating the need for support staff.

Edited by Sancho Panza

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2613586/Computers-middle-class-jobs-White-collar-posts-law-medicine-accounting-increasingly-threat-says-ex-No-10-adviser.html

'Computers 'will take middle-class jobs': White collar posts in law, medicine and accounting increasingly under threat, says ex-No.10 adviser'

‘There is a stagnation in middle class incomes,' he said.

‘Really what’s affecting it is technology replacing white collar jobs in the way that it replaced blue collar jobs back in the 70s, 80s and 90s.’

He added: ‘Take legal services – text-analysing and data-mining software is doing the work of paralegals, or the accounting profession, in which algorithms are taking over from human auditors.’

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are different kinds of accountants. Those who primarily record, and those who interpret and assist with planning and strategising. The latter kind aren't going anywhere and indeed seem to have more hooks in more part of corporate-land than ever before.

The first kind are still necessary despite the march of technology (though some functions have indeed been automated). But they are the cheaper variety anyway. Don't think all accountancy is like filling in tax forms. It isn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You shouldn't underestimate the ability of that tax system to become ever more complex to make employing a professional worthwhile.

I finally gave up doing my own self assessment last year. It was always a drag, but I was becoming worried I was in danger of getting it wrong (compounded by HMRC phone reps being unable to answer some of my questions).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Law and Accounting are only around due to the complexity of our legislation. Written by lawyers, for lawyers, to keep lawyers in jobs.

God forbid the day someone comes in and simplifies things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I work for IT company and we have lots of customer who are accountants. the staff there have to account for every six minutes and there are very efficent at billing there customers.

as the previous post said if accounating was simple there would be less need for them. I Also thing it is made complicated on purpose.

it is shame that a software package like sage does not have the ability to store all the information and press workout button and end of each and give your vat , tax for employess for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If your on a low enough income for tax credits, could you afford to pay an accountant ?

I know I couldn't afford it as low income S.E.

Then you don't know the profile of a typical tax credit boomer claimant, if you can afford not to work properly then you are most likely equity rich.........half a million pound mortgage free property, 300k in investments mostly under a tax free umbrella and not impacting on the income threshold for tax credits......... these are accountant's bread and butter clients.

The working tax credit is not wealth sensitive....the universal credit will be. Many millionaires on working tax credit.

Edited by crashmonitor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is also an assumption that business' keep their records on a computer compliant package......they don't. And certainly investment clients with large portfolios don't...mainly the elderly.

Edited by crashmonitor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

accounting is easy.

Saving tax and understanding the various hints and wrinkles is what makes an accountant worth paying, or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends what sort of accounting you're talking about.

When I first started work, there was a massive office full of dolly birds and old boilers doing the numbers. Within ten years there were about four or five people left and one bloke to fiddle the numbers at month end.

In the middle ground, many small businesses don't need a proper accountant once a quarter, decent software will do the job for them - they just need someone to blame when the taxman comes calling.

Right at the other end, there will never be an electronic replacement for the tax lawyers who help Gary Barlow dodge his fair share.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For some time I've assumed that accountancy was a textbook example of one of those white-collar professions ripe for plucking by the onward march/rush of technology.

But just recently my wife's friend's cousin (okay, okay) who is an accountant, said that she's having to turn work away, there's so much of it to do.

Any expert insights on the true present and likely-future state of play in this field?

Well I'm a software developer, I've even developed accounting applications, but I cant be arsed to do my own accounts since I have a form filling phobia (and that includes online ones) hence some human accountant makes a wedge out of me. I guess like me most people with a "trade" would rather spend an extra hour or so a week doing what they do to pay someone else rather than spend that hour faffing around with accounts.

Edited by goldbug9999

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting to see some of the replies.

OK I have to do this on a regular basis for lots of invoices.

Firstly, all invoices come in two ways, either written/by post or electronically.

So you have to get all the invoices electronically.

Secondly, each invoice would have to be accompanied by a standard file that contained all the information that would be necessary for compilation. So for example, tax point, whether or not it was an eu sale, vat numbers etc.

Then these could all be dumped in one directory and your master accounting software could go through and compile your return based on all these files.

OK, so possibility that you could write software to do this, 100%.

Possibility that you could get everyone worldwide to use it, probably 0%.

Oh yeah, and then you would also have things like your employees expenses to deal with, that often come on a pile of receipts that may have been torn in half by a bus driver etc.

Bookkeepers could be run out of business, but they won't be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting to see some of the replies.

OK I have to do this on a regular basis for lots of invoices.

Firstly, all invoices come in two ways, either written/by post or electronically.

So you have to get all the invoices electronically.

Secondly, each invoice would have to be accompanied by a standard file that contained all the information that would be necessary for compilation. So for example, tax point, whether or not it was an eu sale, vat numbers etc.

Then these could all be dumped in one directory and your master accounting software could go through and compile your return based on all these files.

OK, so possibility that you could write software to do this, 100%.

Possibility that you could get everyone worldwide to use it, probably 0%.

Oh yeah, and then you would also have things like your employees expenses to deal with, that often come on a pile of receipts that may have been torn in half by a bus driver etc.

Bookkeepers could be run out of business, but they won't be.

This is starting to change I think- I saw a system being plugged on an ITV show recently about automation in which the only human input was to scan in the invoices- the system was apparently smart enough to read them, process them and issue payment. The show was called 'man verses machines' on ITV 1- worth a look if a bit superficial.

The new generation of software seems to be more adapt at' learning on the job' - I saw another recent demo of software that was wired to hundreds of street cameras and had built up a database of 'normal activity' in that area- the point being that if something unusual happened- like say a bunch of guys standing around a cash machine for twenty minutes- the system would flag it for attention- a street level application of the way a credit card company might flag unusual activity on your card as possible fraud.

It's actually getting quite creepy- even Orwell never envisaged a technology that could detect deviant behavior on this granular level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The core of accountancy is auditing and the Chartered professional bodies have a monopoly. One of my first jobs was an accountancy clerk and I recall a large estate agency group maintaining an office with a small team of clerks all maintaining client ledgers, all carefully written up and balanced!

Edited by aSecureTenant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting to see some of the replies.

OK I have to do this on a regular basis for lots of invoices.

Firstly, all invoices come in two ways, either written/by post or electronically.

So you have to get all the invoices electronically.

Secondly, each invoice would have to be accompanied by a standard file that contained all the information that would be necessary for compilation. So for example, tax point, whether or not it was an eu sale, vat numbers etc.

Then these could all be dumped in one directory and your master accounting software could go through and compile your return based on all these files.

OK, so possibility that you could write software to do this, 100%.

Possibility that you could get everyone worldwide to use it, probably 0%.

Oh yeah, and then you would also have things like your employees expenses to deal with, that often come on a pile of receipts that may have been torn in half by a bus driver etc.

Bookkeepers could be run out of business, but they won't be.

You don't have to have everyone use one particular bit of software. All you need is a set of standards so the different software can talk to one another. We have plenty of evidence of that being done for various bits of software that underpins society.

Thus it's just a matter of time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it is shame that a software package like sage does not have the ability to store all the information and press workout button and end of each and give your vat , tax for employess for you.

Most accounting software pretty much does that currently. It is totally dependent, however, on how well the data is input in the first place. There is an oft quoted phrase "to err is human, to totally screw up you need a computer" which sums up what I often find with new clients computerised accounting records quite accurately.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see no change in the immediate future on the cards, the tools that have been available for the last few years are going to still be in use over the next few as well, I see no reason why not. Platforms will likely change but processes less so in my opinion. Why 'about to be'? The largest drag on technological evolution in areas like this is more the adoption of it than the advance of the tech itself, and nothing fundamental is changing in the related tech in the near future anyway so far as I can see.

Edited by cybernoid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As previously mentioned it depends on what type of accountancy you talk about. I am the financial controller for a £15m turnover company and in my opinion my type of role will always be there. Software to automate processes is very expensive and it takes a bold man to spend that kind of money. We are looking at new software to improve things and all in it will cost us £300-400k in the first year. The payback is less than five years but given the five years we have endured its a tough decision.

Also the standard of numeracy and financial interpretation skills within an organisation of that size is shocking. I am constantly having to remind higher management exactly what basic graphs and kpi's actually mean. So whilst processes may be improved interpretation and communication to non-financial people will always be a big part of an accountants life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are different kinds of accountants. Those who primarily record, and those who interpret and assist with planning and strategising. The latter kind aren't going anywhere and indeed seem to have more hooks in more part of corporate-land than ever before.

The first kind are still necessary despite the march of technology (though some functions have indeed been automated). But they are the cheaper variety anyway. Don't think all accountancy is like filling in tax forms. It isn't.

Was what I was going to post!

The contraction has pretty much already happened. The army of clerks (think the Tony Hancock film: The Rebel) that sat there basically adding up lots of figures, assembling the base data for the accounts, has been replaced by computers.

I started in the computer era but there were still remnants of this about: I remember A3 trial balances covered in tippex.

Accounts departments used to be bigger and pyramid shaped, with lots of juniors, they're now much more narrow pyramids. Technology / automation is already integral to these teams and can't go much further because of the need for review / interpretation / action upon the data the computers process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...

Accounts departments used to be bigger and pyramid shaped, with lots of juniors, they're now much more narrow pyramids. Technology / automation is already integral to these teams and can't go much further because of the need for review / interpretation / action upon the data the computers process.

Basic review can be outsourced to cheaper countries, then interpretation...

The high fliers will always be in demand as there is a need for strategy/tax avoidance etc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Booming because of the mass self-employed-tax credit scam that's the only game in town at the moment.

What are these? How they work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • The Prime Minister stated that there were three Brexit options available to the UK:   224 members have voted

    1. 1. Which of the Prime Minister's options would you choose?


      • Leave with the negotiated deal
      • Remain
      • Leave with no deal

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic


×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.