Are you ready for the exciting (and scary) future changes in accounting?
I have spent the last two days talking to and listening to CPAs talk about the coming changes in accounting and auditing. What’s the cause of the changes? In a word: Technology.
Specifically, we will see changes from artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, and audit tools. The big four have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars in developing (and embracing) these technologies.
The expectation, so I am hearing, is for CPA firms to reduce the employment of traditional positions (e.g., auditing and tax) and increase the use of other disciplines (e.g., data analytics, leveraging AI and other technologies).
When these changes occur (and yes, I believe they are coming), CPAs can get hurt. Or we can embrace the changes and continue to be profitable. Ignoring these dynamics (or saying they are overstated) will—I believe—leave one blind-sided.
Could I be wrong? Well, yes. And it would not be the first time. But based on what I am reading and hearing, it appears we will see more change in the next five years than we have in the last twenty-five (that’s a pure guess).
Firms will need to make investments in emerging technologies and new software products such as Onpoint (a compilation and review product developed by the AICPA and CaseWare).
One platform, Mindbridge, offers audit technology with artificial intelligence. (Mindbridge works with standard accounting software packages such as QuickBooks and Intaact.)
An interesting platform for bookkeeping is AutoEntry. This package automates the entry of information into QuickBooks (it works with the online and desktop versions). Hector Garcia provides a nice YouTube video demonstrating how this software works.
Onpoint, Mindbridge, and AutoEntry are examples of technologies that will transform accounting as we know it. Anybody feel like we’re watching the accounting version of the Jetsons?
Interestingly, one of the fastest growing areas in public accounting is advisory services. So, smaller CPA firms should expect more demand from bookkeeping clients in terms of providing business advice: strategic planning, how and when to borrow money, where to invest excess funds, etc. This makes sense. The newer technologies are providing accountants with more time. And with that time, we can become better advisors.
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Charles Hall is a practicing CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner. For the last thirty years, he has primarily audited governments, nonprofits, and small businesses. He is the author of The Little Book of Local Government Fraud Prevention and Preparation of Financial Statements & Compilation Engagements. He frequently speaks at continuing education events. Charles is the quality control partner for McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co. where he provides daily audit and accounting assistance to over 65 CPAs. In addition, he consults with other CPA firms, assisting them with auditing and accounting issues.
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