A number of industry stakeholders, including PwC, have recently spoken out on the risks of automation for the accounting and bookkeeping professions. However, speaking yesterday in Sydney, as part of Reckon’s national roadshow, Sam Allert, managing director Australia, New Zealand dismissed these premonitions of a doomed accounting sector and proclaimed there’s never been a more exciting time for the profession.
“In our profession, the accounting and bookkeeping profession, change is massive at the moment, whether you talk about cloud or technology change, whether you talk about legislative change and SBR (Standard Business Reporting) ... but, what we would say at Reckon is that this is not bad change or change to fear – this is great change.”
“Some commentators talk about this in a [fearful] way, as bad change, but we see this as a very positive change.”
Mr Allert said while automation will certainly reduce the time spent on compliance work, this will only free up more time for value-add work – something that is good of both accountants and their clients.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in this industry with Reckon for 16 years and 16 years ago every accounting firm I went and saw said ‘I hope to speed up my compliance processes because clients don’t want to pay us to do this boring compliance work, and I want to do more value-add'."
“They're saying the same thing today but we’ve got better tools, we have better technology. Personally I don’t think there's been a more exciting time; this is the best time to be an accountant, to be a business adviser or to be a bookkeeper.”
Clients expectations are changing, Mr Allert acknowledged, and business owners are no longer want to pay an accountant for basic compliance work and to lodge a tax return, they now expect more and that's a good thing.
“They don’t want to pay $200 an hour, $300 an hour, $450 an hour for that kind of data entry."
"They're wanting more business advice, whether its financial advice, or maybe even information about SMSFs," Mr Allert said.