Contrary to many predictions I’ve seen, you are not at risk of being replaced by a robot.  Equally I do believe that the rise of Robo-Accountants is going to have a big impact on what you do in your firm – but not overnight.

My newest talk is titled ‘The Rise of Robo-Accountants – and how to beat them‘. It’s a practical look at how technology will change the role of accountants faster in the future than it has done on the past. And it is in this context that I have been asked what do I mean when I reference the ‘Rise of Robo-Accountants’?

Despite the obvious imagery conjured up by the phrase, I am NOT talking about walking talking robots.

To me, Robo-Accountants simply means technology that mimics what accountants currently do manually.  This technology is capable of undertaking time consuming and repetitive tasks automatically and with minimal human input. At some point, maybe not much more than 5 years away, this will include much basic compliance work.  Thus, within the next ten years or so few accountants will still be earning significant fees from undertaking basic compliance work for clients. Instead you will be paid for your advice, insights and support.

Crucially Robo-Accountants will often work hand in hand with real-life accountants. This is why I say you will need to be able to use your personal skills, experience, knowledge and instincts to bring value to business decision makers.

The Rise of Robo-Accountants isn’t quite around the corner, but it’s not too far away and the ‘direction of travel’ is already clear from the extensive automation already available within current cloud-based bookkeeping systems and their app stacks. None of this going away and it’s evidently going to get faster, better and easier for clients to use.

This means that the time will come when you will need to be more focused, than ever before, on evidencing those experiences and skills that make you stand out as different to the accountant down the road.

There will continue to be work for compliance focused accountants for a good few years yet. But the Rise of Rob0-Accountants will inevitably mean you will be doing less and less for each client. To maintain or even grow your income you will, almost certainly, need to get better at attracting and winning good clients. And then either accepting lower average fees per client or providing more than traditional compliance reporting services.

During my talk I explore in more detail how practices of all sizes will REALLY be impacted by the Rise of Robo-Accountants and other related changes. I also summarise what you can do to benefit from the related opportunities.

Come and catch the talk at Accountex at 1pm on Wednesday 23rd May in the Future and Development Theatre. Later in the month I am delighted to be travelling south to present the talk at a series of conferences for the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.