Technology has changed our lives, continuing to offer endless possibilities, but with all the amazing advancements for humankind also comes the fear of job loss and workers being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).
This fear is very real for some accountants, with software already eliminating data entry and analysis jobs in the industry. However, being a full-service accountant goes way beyond simple computations and analysis. The complexities and nuances of the job are what keep accountants and practices in business.
But could more advanced AI software be an impending threat?
A fair amount of debate has risen in the accounting community as to the probability of being replaced by AI. Progressive software can add, subtract and analyze numbers more quickly than a human being and can more accurately predict future patterns, earnings and trends.
Still, the future and true capabilities of technology are unknown. Those who believe that the accounting field is on life support are ignoring some of the vital roles that humans play in the industry and in professional services — roles that cannot be filled by AI, no matter how advanced it becomes.
For those accountants out there — before you drive yourself to madness asking the question, “Will I be replaced?” — take the human factor into account. Here are just a few of the things that human beings can do that software is unlikely to ever duplicate.
Although some AI has been created to learn from its mistakes, it cannot learn from life lessons or situations that have occurred outside its own practice or direct client work — like an experienced accountant with years of experience can. Seeing errors in someone else's actions or thinking is uniquely human.
Human beings bring a broader spectrum of knowledge, so leverage this to prove yourself as an invaluable asset to your clients and garner greater confidence as they navigate their finances. A good way to demonstrate this unique capability is to share anecdotes of similar business matters that you have encountered, what tactics were used and the outcome.
Another less tangible ability that you most likely have leveraged in client work is intuition.
Intuition is one of those human talents that neuroscientists have yet to figure out, unable to determine how human intuition is created or why some humans are better at it than others. It’s a phenomenon that software developers will never be able to recreate. As an accountant, there is a good chance that there are times that you need to advise clients without clear-cut analytical reasoning — relying heavily on instincts to know the best course of action.
Never underestimate the importance of personal interactions in the client-accountant relationship. When it comes to financial matters, clients like to be able to shake a hand and make eye contact with the person that they are entrusting with their livelihood.
Connecting on a personal level goes a long way as well. Take a few minutes to chat about your personal life and your client’s. Let them know that you understand that life is happening in real-time. No software can understand the changes in priorities that happen as life evolves. Marriage, child-rearing, divorce and the death of loved ones are human experiences that can change one's financial picture drastically.
Remind your clients that as a fellow human being, you understand the significance of life events and you can help them alter their financial path and adjust as needed. Attention to the personal side can build groundwork for stronger communication, client loyalty and retention and keep existing clients from turning to software.
It also helps a lot in disarming new opportunities that might have their guard up in sales discussions. Talking weather or who you’re predicting to win the World Series may not seem vital to your accounting firm's success, but it is these shared experiences that build trust and nurture the belief that you are present and invested in your clients and their lives.
Personal relationships are the foundation on which you build all human interactions – and business relationships – and the personal relationship between client and accountant will never be replaced by software.
Expanding on relationship building, developing trust is another vital part of the human experience and impossible to quantify or qualify in software. To be a successful accountant, you must earn the trust of your clients. You do this by being open and honest about who you are and what you can accomplish for them.
Even those clients who could learn to trust the science behind the AI-based accounting software would be hard-pressed to say that they trust the software to truly comprehend the human experience or to do what is best for them. Software cannot engage in conversations, work through various scenarios, outline options and provide professional recommendations based on what is best for the client.
Because software is threatening some accounting functions does not mean that you should forgo the use of software – it means you should leverage the best software to facilitate success with your clients. Accelo is a complete client work management that integrates with popular accounting business applications to give you greater insight into your clients, projects, resource allocation and profitability.
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Designed specifically to manage the client component of accounting practices, Accelo enables you to efficiently and knowledgeably tackle the day-to-day including sales pipeline, client communications, billing, recurring work and reporting.
The unique client portal lets your clients access controlled information such as work status and keeps an ongoing line of communication and visibility. You can even brand the client-facing side of the platform with your logo and colors.
Want to see for yourself why accounting businesses choose Accelo? Schedule a demo now.