In a recent AccountantsDaily poll, just over half (52 per cent) of respondents said automation will cost their firm revenue this year. While Mr Smith said he expects the technology to take a little longer to have any real impact, he said this year is the time to start the process of change.
“When you listen to the likes of [ATO second commissioner] Geoff Leeper, he seems pretty serious about what he is trying to do and making some fairly large investment decisions. You can see the ATO, within the next three to five years, achieving some of these fairly large breakthroughs in technology,” he said.
“To change a firm to adjust to this sort of technology is going to take time and that means accountants need to start thinking about changing their processes, think about changing their service offering, think about changing how they engage with their clients.”
“All of those changes will take quite a bit of time for firms to enact and so they should be doing this while their revenues are not being massively impacted. It’s better to be ready before the effect on their revenue actually becomes substantial.”
Mr Smith said it is particularly important for those principals who may be looking to sell their practice in coming years to shape their business for future growth now.
“A practice that is at least trying to move down the road of adjusting itself to the changes that look pretty imminent, those practices will be positioned better to achieve a good price on a sale at some point.”
“I would have thought that even the baby boomers need to be thinking about this and putting changes in place so they can maximise the value of their business,” Mr Smith said.