Home Accounting Software Aussie accountants lead global counterparts in adapting to automation

Aussie accountants lead global counterparts in adapting to automation

Accountants in Australia, and their global counterparts, are changing their attitudes towards automation in the profession as the benefits become clearer, signalling a “new era” for accounting practices, according to a newly released study.

The global study of 700 accountants, including 100 in Australia, by independent research company Viga for accounting software provider Sage, revealed that 98% of those surveyed in Australia were confident about the future of accountancy and their role in it, despite 86% seeing their role changing through automation in the future.

Jennifer Warawa, executive vice-president, product marketing, Sage, says the Australian results were largely in line with the global findings, although local accountants were more confident about the future of their profession and noticeably more ready to embrace new technologies than their global counterparts.

But Sage says that while optimistic about technology, a higher portion of Australian accountants also identified the potential threat of technology to replace aspects of their roles.

“Change can often divide the crowd. This research shows the majority of accountants see the empowering opportunity that automation can bring freeing them up to focus on their practice and their clients,” said Warawa.

“As artificial intelligence and bots become progressively more intuitive, the door opens further towards the future of invisible admin and gives them the space to spend their time on more valuable services for their clients.

“The industry must come together to support this change and help eliminate any barriers or fears that can hold accountants back. The call to action is now with accountants and small business owners to embrace the change and decide how they will spend the time that automation will afford them.”

Sage says other Australian findings of the survey included:

    •Cloud Adoption: With cloud now seen as “table stakes” in most organisations, cloud-based solutions among Australian accountants are proving popular.

    68% say their firm invests in the best technology available, including cloud technology, to help offer the best services to their clients.

    83% have adopted a cloud-based practice management solution.

    Security is seen as the biggest barrier to adopting cloud technology (25%), while 14% say it is client concerns.

    •Admin & Automation: Many Australian accountants find admin tasks, such as time spent number-crunching, frustrating and can see great benefits in automation such as it is freeing their time to serve more clients and creating more services for their clients. However, some still worry about how technology will affect their role.

    An overwhelming 94% agree that by automating data entry and reporting, they would be free to create services that add value for their clients.

    Accountants are on the fence as to whether admin is enjoyable or a frustration with 36% saying it’s the most enjoyable part of their role while 45% say time spent number-crunching is their biggest frustration;         regardless, they are in agreement that it takes up a lot of their time.

    49% believe the biggest threat to the accountancy profession is new emerging technology that can do some of the jobs they currently do.

    32% would take time off with the extra time they save with automation.

    More than half (62%) say their biggest business frustration is chasing clients for financial information.

    • Future gazing – optimism prevails: Despite fears and frustrations, accountants have an optimistic view of the future of their profession in Australia.

    98% of those surveyed are confident about the future of accountancy and their role in it with 59% very confident & 39% moderately confident.

    86% see their role changing through automation in the future.

    50% believe it will change through automated admin.

    36% see some of their work becoming automated but still applying that information under their control.

Over half of accountants surveyed (65%) see their roles becoming more strategic and being able to provide more financial and business advice to their customersWhen asked what the biggest threats to the accountancy profession are, 35% believe it to be self-service accounting solutions, with 17% saying it is customers not understanding the full benefit of working with an accountant.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).