J. Cash Tax Preparation & Accountants
How CPA's Can Get & Stay Ahead in the Automation Age
Automation is no longer just a buzzword making rounds in the tech space; it’s a stark reality for many job professions, including accountants. In fact, according to a recent study published by FT.com, nearly 48 percent of job categories across the spectrum are under serious threat from automation in the next couple of decades. With accountants and auditors among the hardest hit by automation, CPAs certainly have a reason to be wary.
In case that isn’t worrisome enough, Financial Times reveals that as automation continues to gain footing, there’s been a downward hiring trend at the Big Four (namely KPMG, PwC, EY, and Deloitte). Coincidentally, these are the largest employers of CPA graduates across the globe. The bigger question is: should accountants push the panic button? More importantly, how can CPAs get ahead and put themselves in a better position to survive the automation apocalypse?
It’s Time to Embrace and Face Automation Head-On
No matter how you look at it, automation is a huge wake-up call for all CPAs, especially bookkeepers and accounting clerks. As artificial intelligence and machine learning advance, more and more companies will be looking to automate their books and processes, rendering CPAs obsolete. However, there’s no reason to panic yet. Why?
First things first, automation is still in its nascent stage. According to a research conducted by McKinsey and Company, digitization of most accounting jobs is still at very early stage despite all the buzz surrounding automation. However, that doesn’t mean that accountants cannot get a headstart. As a matter of fact, now is the best time for CPAs to keep up with digitization or risk finding themselves out of work in the next few years.
Hone Your Specialty
In the digital age, CPAs can no longer afford to be one-size-fits-all or low-level accountants. As such, specialization can be a huge game-changer. It’s all about becoming the expert in your specific niche of accounting, and that’s where artificial intelligence can come in handy. However, you need to hone basic skills needed to take advantage of AI and data science.
In other words, accountants need to learn skills required to interpret data collected by their clients and gain helpful insights. While AI can help gather heaps of data and chunk it down into smaller, easier-to-digest bits, clients will still depend on CPAs to make informed financial decisions on their behalf. To do so, however, accountants may be required to familiarize themselves with how their clients gather, store, and use data to make better choices.
Prioritize Emotional Intelligence and People Skills (EQ)
When it comes to beating the “bot”, it is crucial for accountants to give particular emphasis to emotional intelligence and people skills on top of sprucing up their AI and technical know-how. As you might already know, emotional intelligence (EQ) is quite different from conventional intelligence (IQ). In fact, it’s not uncommon for accountants with a high level of intelligence (IQ) not to be able to “read” how others perceive them.
In that regard, having emotional intelligence or people skills can help accountants not only make themselves stand out in a sea of competition but also become successful when dealing with their colleagues and clients. How so?
● EQ improves your ability to be self-aware. In other words, it allows you to figure out what your weaknesses and strengths are. By recognizing yourself, you can easily understand how others perceive you.
● EQ improves your situational awareness. It allows you to “read the room.”
● EQ helps you respond appropriately. This way, you can tailor your responses and behavior to match the expectation of the clients.
For accountants, getting ahead in the automation age is no walk in the park for accountants. However, with heightened emotional intelligence and specialization, they can tackle the bull by the horn.
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