Can AI replace Accountants: Three types of Accountants and their Future


As we all know, it is the accounting system that supplies data for analysis to economists, financiers, and other employees with handsome titles on their business cards.

It is hard to imagine a more important and responsible job than that of an accountant – he forms the information basis for managing the organization. Without an accountant, the decision-making process is like looking for a long-ago black cat in a dark room. If he has done his job poorly, the decisions can be fatal to the organization as well.

Many gore-futurologists fantasize that soon accounting software will begin to do the accounting itself. These fantasies fall on fertile ground: replacing an accountant with a robot is the dream of many entrepreneurs.

A robot is cheaper, it doesn’t get sick, it doesn’t make mistakes, and it doesn’t leak information to competitors. However, there are reasons to doubt such predictions.

The first reason is the increasing complexity of accounting standards, which increasingly rely on the use of the professional judgment of the accountant.

The second reason is that the current level of robotic accounting is very far from the day of the rise of machines. The most technologically advanced development in the industry is the recognition of a client’s scanned “primary” records and laying them out in folders for further processing by an accountant. In other words, the robot is an assistant to the least qualified employee in the accounting department, whose functionality is easily algorithmized.

In addition to the reasons given for not believing in the total robotization of accounting, there is another one. Serious research, based on an in-depth analysis of the labor market, does not predict a decline in the number of accountants in the foreseeable future. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook every two years, which forecasts absolute and relative job growth in 325 occupations from 25 sectors 10 years into the future. The most recent such study was released last year. The accounting profession is projected to grow by 10 percent, one of the highest growth rates among finance and business occupations.  However, this prediction applies only to qualified professionals (accountants).

The prospects for ordinary accountants performing routine operations (bookkeepers) are not so bright. Their number is predicted to decline – precisely because of the automation of grassroots accounting processes.

Despite all my skepticism about the total robotization of accounting, I still admit that someday neural networks will be able to replace a qualified chief accountant. That day is still a long way off, but an honest analysis of one’s job functions in terms of the ratio of routine operations to activities requiring non-standard solutions would not be out of place for an accountant.

TYPE 1. The fighters with the system.

Such chief accountants, who have learned to more or less tolerably keep records and submit reports to the tax inspectorate, statistics, etc. But they lead a constant and endless struggle with the enemy in the face of regulatory bodies. These are the people who have learned to turn on the X-ray machine, put their enterprise in front of it and take pictures – accounting registers and reporting. But their pictures are not always of high quality, so they can’t make sense of them and are constantly fighting with users who read them differently.

Such specialists usually confuse tax accounting with accounting, dealing in fact with the former, but projecting its rules onto the latter. Because of this confusion, they have problems with both accounting and tax accounting.

They are the first candidates to fly out when the robots attack.

TYPE 2. Elements of the system.

 These chief accountants know how to keep accounts so that the tax inspectorate, state statistics bodies, auditors, and other inspectors have no claims to the results of their work. But they are not full-fledged accountants – they just record the events that happened.

Often such chief accountants use methods that do not allow them to use their data to run an enterprise. This is not always due to low qualifications – sometimes it’s just a matter of simplifying their work.

Due to the increasing complexity of accounting standards, such specialists will still work – they, unlike those mentioned, can master the new rules and minimize the amount of their work again.

TYPE 3Builders of the system are chief accountants, who organize accounting so that it provides the data needed to make management decisions.

Analytical accounting is organized in all necessary cuts, the capabilities of modern accounting are used to the maximum: both methodological and software. If an owner needs to know what kind of production he earns and what he loses, he will get such information promptly and in full. If he needs to understand whether purchases are being made efficiently or equipment is being used, he will know about it as well.

To summarize: the rumours about the near-death of the accounting profession are greatly exaggerated. But, of course, the profession is transforming. The role of the accountant will increasingly shift to decision-making, which will no longer be performed by other accountants, but by artificial intelligence.

So if you’re studying accounting, you don’t need to worry. It’s a very important field and in near future, it cannot be replaced by robots. If you have some difficulties with studying, you can use an accounting homework helper.