August 30, 2019
For many, the thought of adopting artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace is a daunting prospect. But it seems that the majority of chartered accountants believe it will, in fact, have a positive effect on the industry. According to research conducted by CABA, the charity supporting the wellbeing of chartered accountants and their families, 52 percent believe this to be the case, with 16 percent either unsure or predicating no impact at all. The same research also found that, more generally, the biggest bugbear for chartered accountants was the amount of work expected to be completed in the time available (41 percent). So, it’s encouraging that nearly 1 in 4 (25 percent) agree that AI will let humans add value elsewhere as robots take on more menial jobs. In addition, 17 percent stated that the adoption of AI/automation will increase productivity, with 11 percent also agreeing that it will reduce errors and improve attention to detail.
With regards to future impact, chartered accountants think that artificial intelligence will have the biggest bearing on data/trend analysis (32 percent), followed by report generation (23 percent) and accounts preparation/auditing (20 percent).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, AI is predicted to be the biggest trend in the profession over the next 5-10 years (29 percent), together with Brexit induced trends (29 percent), and technology usage to drive efficiencies (28 percent). However, it seems some within the industry are still unsure on the benefits of AI, with 32 percent fearing the adoption of this technology in the workplace. The research found that 6 percent of these respondents fear it will replace the workforce completely.
Kelly Feehan, Service Director, CABA, comments on the findings: “Whilst the adoption of new technology to streamline processes in all professions is inevitable, it’s encouraging to hear that so many chartered accountants think AI will have a positive impact on the profession. As organisations become used to automation, they will start to see how technology can work to complement their workforce. Employers must not forget the importance of upskilling their employees in areas that can’t be serviced by technology to future proof the current and future workforce. Whilst AI won’t add value to every workplace, or may be too expensive to implement, for some, it could help lessen the burden of menial, administrative tasks on employees and help them advance their career by letting them upskill in other areas.”