In the modern business enterprise, accountants are expected to understand data analytics, forensic accounting, and risk management, among other highly sought-after skills. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—like the software used to track financial transactions—can make accountants’ lives easier, but with each passing year, these technologies are taking over an increasing number of accounting tasks from trained individuals.
Accountants are understandably interested in the impact of AI on their profession. We’re here to make the argument that accountants should not only accept but embrace these smart technologies. Are AI and accounting the new chocolate and peanut butter? Let’s find out.
How AI and Accounting Go Together
Most people’s understanding of AI comes from science fiction: stories in which, let’s say, a rogue AI declares war on the human race. AI, at least in the world of business, simply refers to technologies that can perform tasks that previously required the personal touch of a human.
AI has assumed many of the repetitive and rudimentary tasks accountants once performed, freeing them to focus on more complex responsibilities like analyzing financial records and meeting face-to-face with managers and stakeholders. Here are several ways that AI has changed accounting. Just don’t expect things to slow down anytime soon: AI is still in its infancy.
Accounting software can extract and classify data from images with greater efficiency than any human can achieve. (Can you believe there was a time when every single piece of data had to be keyed in manually?) This is where AI impacts accounting most significantly, permitting trained professionals to save time on mind-numbing tasks. The emergence of big data and cloud computing will, however, increase the need for accountants with expertise in data analysis.
As hawkeyed as the average accountant may be, there’s no competing with the speed and accuracy of an AI tool. AI can spot anomalies caused by fraudulent spending or human error, and thanks to big data, this technology can be scaled to audit a business’s every financial statement. As these data sets grow, so too will the challenges accountants face in ensuring their companies remain compliant with laws and regulations.
Machine learning, a type of AI that uses algorithms to adapt and improve over time, enables accountants to analyze and glean insights from historical data. This takes the form of predictive and prescriptive analytics, which identify future outcomes and provide recommendations for achieving business objectives, respectively. Accountants will always be needed to help businesses plan for the future. AI is just making their job a little easier.
Will AI Replace Accountants?
We’ve left you hanging long enough. AI will not replace accountants, especially certified public accountants (CPAs), anytime soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that emerging technologies, including AI, aren’t expected to reduce demand for accountants and auditors, which is expected to grow by 6% over the course of the next decade.
What makes accountants such valued members of any business are their robust skill sets and extensive knowledge of financial planning, risk management, and tax reporting. As startups grow into multinational corporations, accountants can make sense of increasingly complex tax codes and financial records. And we’ve yet to see an AI tool that can build a rapport with clients or explain the results of financial analysis.
Accounting: An Evolving Role
Deloitte’s 2022 Global Intelligent Automation survey asked executives to imagine an “ideal organization transformed by automation.” The survey revealed that businesses are moving closer to the ideal, with 46% of respondents planning to implement AI within the next three years. Traditionally, businesses have been slow to embrace disruptive technologies like AI, but those who do are more likely to survive in an increasingly automated world.
The role of accountants is evolving as businesses continue to adopt AI technology. No longer needed to collect and sort through data—leave that to AI—accountants are left to create concise, insightful reports and advise clients on how best to achieve their goals. This shift does, however, mean that accountants will have to further develop their technical and leadership skills and possibly become licensed CPAs. Professionals unable or unwilling to upskill could find themselves outcompeted by both peers and robots.
Embrace the Future
The University of Texas Permian Basin offers online programs for aspiring professionals as well as those interested in pursuing a terminal accounting degree. They are:
BBA in Accounting
Our online Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting provides the foundational knowledge needed to make it in the world of business. Students receive expert guidance on accounting principles, including the fundamentals of cost accounting, assurance services, and accounting information systems. Graduates are better prepared for careers as accountants, auditors, and financial analysts, among many others.
MBA in Accounting
Our online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with accounting emphasis empowers professionals with the business, interpersonal, and technical skills needed to steer organizations as financial experts. Able to be completed in as little as one year, our program offers students the choice to pursue their CPA licensure or take a broad course of study with our non-CPA track.
Master of Professional Accountancy
Our online Master of Professional Accountancy program provides an in-depth understanding of traditional and contemporary accounting practices. Students can graduate in as little as one year prepared to take the Texas CPA exam and earn their certification. Courses are entirely online and taught by the same business professionals who teach on campus.
All three programs are accredited by the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), and their online format allows you to pursue your degree without impacting your personal or professional life. Continue working while future-proofing your career with the help of UT Permian Basin online.
Ready to get started? Apply to one of our online BBA, MBA, or master’s degree in accounting programs to develop your skills in this ever-changing career field.