Robyn Milner FCA, director of Sharman Business Consulting, said while technological development is changing the profession, accountants should welcome the change and embrace the possibilities it presents.
“I think the future of the profession, whether you’re in practice or in commerce, is [that] compliance is a necessary thing that has to be done, but the time, effort and money spent on it has to be diminished," Ms Milner said.
“It’s a small part of what we do and actually the advisory piece, whether in commerce or in practice, is the critical part.”
Regardless of the technology available, Ms Milner said, every accountant's goal should be to add value to the organisation they are working with.
“I think as a profession, we've got to adapt and be more focused on where we can add value and those value-adding skills are what the future of the profession will look like,” she said.
Panel member Stephen Haynes CA, who is Qantas' manager for performance, planning and reporting, said he does not see automation as a threat at all.
“Anything that can make your job easier and quicker, frees your time up to do other things," he said, "like project work, working with the business, getting out there and helping them make decisions that will actually benefit the shareholders."
Mr Haynes said accountants should use the time freed up by the benefits of automation to look for new ways to improve business performance.
“Get out there and know the business and help drive it forward,” he said.
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