Whether you’re launching your first startup or running a midsize company, you’ll need to hire an accountant at some point. However, as time goes on and technology gets more advanced, there’s still no substitute for the advice and services that only an experienced CPA can provide—no matter how convenient or modern the accounting software might be. Here are some reasons why accounting software can’t replace accountants completely.
A brief history of accounting
Before computers, all accounting was done by hand. While very time-consuming, it was reliable. Then computers came along. If you had an accountant, then that accountant could use a computer to speed up your record-keeping and maybe even help you with tax returns and other filings. But if you didn’t have an accountant (or any staff at all), then record-keeping required learning one of several proprietary programs that your small business would have to pay a hefty fee every year to keep running (not unlike what happens today with Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite). Of course, most people ended up using QuickBooks because it was relatively cheap.
The role of an accountant
While modern-day accounting software is an amazing tool for businesses big and small, it still requires a human being to interpret what that information means. While there are many things you may think your accountant does—things like checking your math or making sure you aren’t committing fraud—the real value comes from their ability to act as a partner. That partnership allows them to help decipher not only business-related information but also financials from a personal perspective; after all, one of the most common mistakes businesses make is neglecting cash flow planning for their owners. What’s more, because most large businesses have multiple accounts, those numbers need to be compared against each other in order to understand exactly where cash flow is going and where it needs to go.
What is it like to be an accountant?
It’s a lot of hard work, long hours and late nights spent pouring over spreadsheets. We have to meet deadlines, juggle numerous projects at once and spend less time than we’d like with our families. This is only part of it. Many people don’t realize that being an accountant requires extensive training, experience and even a license in some states. Accountants should be held in high regard but we’re facing an uncertain future. With companies like Intuit offering tax-preparation services online through its TurboTax program, more small businesses are choosing to outsource their financial needs to automated systems instead of trained professionals.
The future of accounting
Technology is changing and impacting every sector of business, from consumer services to manufacturing. No industry will be immune to change, including accounting. In fact, more than 90% of accountants worldwide believe that technology is making their jobs faster and easier. Technology’s influence in accounting is set to continue, especially with advances in artificial intelligence and robotics expected to bring even greater changes in 2017. As such, there are benefits and drawbacks to the rise of tech-driven accounting. The downside? Accountants who have invested significant time into training may find themselves out of a job as companies adopt newer technologies that can do the same work at a lower cost. On the other hand, those who are willing to upskill themselves may find new opportunities in fields such as consulting or auditing which offer better pay and room for growth.
why software can’t replace accountants?
The use of technology in business is becoming increasingly important; it’s estimated that, by 2020, up to 45% of all employees in developed countries will be involved in some aspect of digital work. That’s a scary thought when you consider how much trust we put into programs designed to help us with everyday tasks. With that being said, it seems inevitable that we will eventually outsource more and more of our mundane jobs. The next logical step in business—and life—is the integration of artificial intelligence. For many people though, financial matters are far from mundane—especially when those books aren’t balanced correctly! While technology may not be able to completely remove humans from accountability just yet, there are ways for them to work together to get better results.