What does the rise of artificial intelligence mean for the future of the accountancy profession? ICAEW held an event in Prague on 27 June to debate the topic with leading figures from the profession in the Czech Republic.
While automation is not a new topic, and accountants have embraced technology for many years to help them be more efficient and effective, there are concerns across many sectors of the economy about the impact of AI on the future of jobs.
ICAEW’s Kirstin Gillon chaired the event and shared ICAEW’s thinking and experience on how technologies such as big data, cloud and AI are transforming aspects of the profession. These trends are enabling accountants to spend less time on routine work and focus on more valuable activities in business and practice. An eminent panel then gave their views on the future - Petr Kriz (PWC), Martin Tesar (Deloitte), Jan Machac (BDO) and Petr Skoda (KPMG). Overall, the panel was positive about the opportunities presented by new technologies and were convinced that human judgement (and accountants) would remain vital, not be replaced by machines.
However, everyone recognised that this meant significant change in the profession. In particular, accountants would need different skills in the future. IT skills would become more important, but softer skills such communication and critical thinking would also be vital to ensure that businesses extract correct insight from data. This created a lot of debate with the audience on how to reflect this change in the teaching of accountants.
ICAEW has published a new report on AI and the future of accountancy, which is freely available: