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Accountants warned they could be 'disintermediated'

Smithink 2020 founding director David Smith has warned improving technology is the biggest danger that the accounting industry faces.

News Michael Masterman 15 September 2014
— 1 minute read

Speaking at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand National SMSF Conference last week, Mr Smith said he believes complete machine automation of transaction processing will wipe out the bookkeeping profession in the next 10–15 years and drastically alter the accounting profession too.

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“The big danger for the accounting industry is ultimately: will the machines get that good that we are not needed?” he said.

“Perhaps you get disintermediated.”

Mr Smith predicted a time when technology is able to calculate judgement by applying algorithms to data. He said it will be this that will have the most drastic implications for accountants.

“If you’ve automated all of the admin and you’ve automated the judgement around the year-end compliance work, what is your role?”

Mr Smith described this as the “quantum shift” that will force the accounting profession to accept the changing environment –sooner rather than later.

In the SMSF space, Mr Smith said he expects funds could actually be “self-managing” with no need for intermediaries such as the accountant to get involved.

He said the SMSF space is particularly susceptible to advancements in technology given how data feeds work.

“If we don’t accept that automation is happening we will have the AMPs of the world and others who will drive the price down to the extent that you’ll have to accept it,” Mr Smith said.

Accountants warned they could be 'disintermediated'
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