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June 20, 2018
Some people are worried that robots are going to take their jobs in the near future.
If you’re a CPA, you just might be wondering if the latest accounting software might give clients the ability to DIY your practice right out of existence. With intelligent machines such as IBM’s Watson teaming up with H&R Block, some accountants may be concerned that their CPA practice may become obsolete.
This post explores the encroachment of cloud accounting software into the CPA client space. With studies showing more than 90% of small and mid-sized businesses will be using this software, should a CPA be worried?
Cloud Computing Services Disrupting CPA Practices?
The good news for CPA firms is that they do more than just calculate accounting figures. While QuickBooks and TurboTax may help the solo entrepreneur file tax returns without hiring an accountant, once a business grows larger it is unlikely that the complexities of filing would allow for a DIY approach. While anyone can plug numbers into a software program, it is the ability to understand the outcomes and projections that really help businesses succeed. This takes the analysis and counsel of something more than a software program.
Too, most CPAs today have expanded their practices past the tax season. Auditing services along with consulting and enterprise resource planning have helped accountants shift their practices with market fluctuations that include digital disruption and increasing competition.
While many CPA-related tasks now often incorporate cloud computing services in the form of software, the typical expansion must include the expertise of the CPA. This human resource simply cannot be replaced by software.
The Mississippi Business Journal interviewed a professor in the accounting department from Mississippi State University who stated, “The big discussion now is on the impact that disruptive technologies (e.g., machine learning, artificial intelligence) may have on accounting. Advanced automation will have an impact on some of the entry-level tasks performed by students, but I don’t think it will be eliminating jobs.”
Interestingly, Forrester does predict that AI will replace approximately 7% of U.S. jobs by 2025. A Forbes article strikes a more ominous tone, stating that, “Many accountants are riding this wave and will thrive, but many others may suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs.”
CPAs + Cloud Computing Services = A New Kind of Practice
The Forbes article suggests that becoming the “accountant of tomorrow” will require the embrace of cloud computing services. They suggest that automation of basic tasks should not threaten accountants, but instead free up their time to focus on a consultant model for business advisory services that adds value for clients seeking true competitive advantage.
Some of the ways accountants could enhance their practices by leveraging the cloud include using software to improve financial reporting and audit and risk management. Using automation to streamline how accountants handle AR is the perfect example of working smarter by leveraging the very technology that some say is threatening the traditional CPA practice.
Accountants that work with managed service provides such as TOSS C3 could outsource IT services, forming a partnership designed around digital technologies. Having access to best-in-class technology means that the CPA practice will inevitably move beyond bookkeeping to embrace a cloud computing services model.
Ultimately, the question accountants should be asking is: how can the cloud benefit my practice?
To find out how cloud computing services could help your CPA firm evolve, get a free assessment.
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