Research shows 92% of accountants believe some - or all - accountancy work will be automated in five years

10th Jun 2019
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The UK’s number one accounting software provider for small businesses, FreeAgent, has surveyed more than 100 accountants from across the UK to get their views on how they think automation may impact their jobs in the future. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated developments in technology and artificial intelligence (AI), many sectors in the UK are now considering the impact that automation could have on them - and the accountancy profession is no exception.

When asked “Do you think accountancy will be automated in the next five years?” a staggering 92% said they thought that either some - or all - of it will. Meanwhile, just under half (45%) said that they won’t be doing the same day-to-day tasks at work in 2024.

The next question the survey posed was “In what ways do you think technology will impact the accountancy profession in the next five years?”. The majority of accountants predicted that changes would take place in the following areas:

  • deeper banking and software integrations (66%)
  • more sophisticated mobile apps to aid working on the go (65%)  
  • more automation of data (64%)

Half of the accountants surveyed also said they expected to see new developments in AI that would aid accountancy work.However, only one in 10 (11%) believed that a robot or AI would eventually be able to do the job of an accountant in the future.

With all of these prospective changes in mind, one of the final questions accountants were asked was whether they intend to retrain in any way, with the aim of safeguarding/future-proofing their role. It’s clear from the results that accountants appear to be anticipating these changes already, with over a third (34%) saying they definitely plan on retraining and another 34% saying they would ‘possibly’ do so.

While accountancy may face an unclear future due to new developments in technology and legislation - not to mention the shifting demands of business owners when it comes to their financial data - there is certainly cause for optimism.

The insight from FreeAgent’s research has shown that many accountants in the UK are not only aware of the likely automation of certain aspects of their roles in the future, but they are proactively preparing for it. This kind of forward thinking will be crucial for shaping the landscape of the accountancy profession in the future.

Find out more about how FreeAgent can help you prepare your practice for the future.