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How intelligent automation is fuelling growth across UK accountancy firms

7th Mar 2024
Brought to you by
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Wolters Kluwer provides software to tax and accounting professionals.

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Automation is not a threat for accountants, but a crucial opportunity. Here’s why.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in Tax and Accounting: small and medium practices, take note.
Wolters Kluwer

The UK accountancy sector is currently navigating a perfect storm of falling productivity, talent shortages and rising work demands. We know this first hand from working with many of Britain’s top accounting firms. So how do you ensure service satisfaction is maintained with increasingly sparse resources – especially in the peak workload periods? How do you deliver services faster and in greater volume, with fewer errors? 

Introducing intelligent automation

The catalyst to help address these challenges is a cutting-edge combination of intelligent automation and AI. These capabilities are being proven and evolved to deliver big opportunities and profitable growth across firms’ operational environments.

How is this being achieved? It’s about employing a workforce of robots and accountants working together to perform tasks faster, smarter and more productively. It’s a technology-augmented workforce that’s becoming a key part of accountancy firms’ culture.

When income documents arrive via your firm’s inbox or portal, these new-generation accounting teams can automatically download the documents to a secure processing centre. Reading from single PDFs or multiple attachments, that centre then classifies each document, checking for income types such as employment income, bank interest, investment income, pensions, or capital gains.

Based on its development and training on thousands of similar documents, such processing tools can recognise a P11D or bank statement, for example. They can even spot information in unstructured data, such as emails where a client has written a few lines about dividends, bank interest or charity donations.

The process enables intelligent automation of personal tax processing through our  tool, Wolters Kluwer CCH Central Personal Tax Automation, powered by FD Intelligence. The tool interacts with Wolters Kluwer’s CCH Personal Tax product as part of an end-to-end workflow tool for clients’ personal tax affairs. It automates the extraction and categorisation of tax data from client documents, slashing the time spent by advisers on manual processes.

CCH Central Personal Tax Automation is available to CCH Personal Tax users at accounting firms that file a minimum of 1,000 tax returns, with no upper limit.

Key benefits of intelligent automation

For UK accounting firms large and small, many other work streams are being automated, including streamlining pre-accounting, practice administration, billing & invoicing, financial reporting, and audit compliance. This is just the start. Intelligent automation is not just about removing tedious tasks, but also about helping firms reimagine what’s possible, and making it happen.

Here are some key outcomes that firms are achieving from intelligence automation.

  1. Improved productivity –handling increased workloads without hiring more colleagues makes it easier to scale resources in line with growth.
  2. Reduced cost and risk – performing tasks faster, with greater consistency and accuracy, cuts labour overheads and errors and generates 30% savings from automating manual work, while boosting quality and compliance.
  3. Increased employee value and satisfaction - with automation performing routine services, the team can save as much as half their time, which would normally go into number-crunching and data processing, and spend it instead on strategic advisory work.
  4. Improved customer services - significantly reduced service completion times means increased customer loyalty and more time for services and experiences that they value more.
  5. Faster return on investment (ROI) - unlike with lengthy IT projects, benefits can be seen within weeks for simple intelligent automation scenarios, and complex, end-to-end, process automations can be rolled out in just three to four months.

Intelligent automation provides the right capability at the right time to improve efficiency, accuracy and productivity - and overcome a number of challenges facing accountancy firms.

Those that start automating work could benefit from improved staff engagement, client satisfaction increases, and ultimately the firm more profitable. Firms could see ROI in months.

Ultimately, intelligent automation is not a threat to the accountancy sector; it’s an unmissable opportunity that is now becoming hard to ignore.

Read more about the The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in Tax and Accounting in our recent white paper.