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Finance insights 3 min read

What accounting will look like in the future

Faustine Rohr-Lacoste

Accounting has changed a lot over the years, and it’s still constantly shifting shapes. With such a fast-moving industry, it’s important to keep looking ahead – that's why we're taking a cold, hard look at the future of accounting.

Accounting has shaped societies over the course of thousands of years, but it has always been in a state of perpetual change. With the possibilities of today, the craft is more advanced than ever, but that doesn’t mean it stopped changing — quite the opposite. And while technological advancements are having a profound impact on the job, the industry itself is changing, too. 

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The impact of technology on accounting

It's hard to deny the impact technology has had on anything, and accounting has most definitely followed suit. Over the last few decades, there’s been an influx of cloud-based accounting software programs that has made it much easier for teams to collaborate and have provided companies with a higher degree of security over their backup data. Some companies, like Spendesk, have even been creating totally new ways to deal with accounting.

Even though lots has already changed, the most interesting times might still be ahead of us. Innovations like machine learning will be used to create new insights and to power smarter decision-making, all while making companies more efficient.

Lots of tasks that are being done by humans today will slowly be taken over by machines — just like in any other industry. For example, the data that is produced by the accounting department is often streamlined and prepared to fit a certain framework, which makes it perfect for being parsed without human intervention. Basic accounting tasks could be picked up by computers, relieving employees from lots of manual work and ensuring lower error rates. For more complicated tasks, AI could even analyse user behaviour and eventually make calculated decisions based on previous actions.

Another important technological concept with lots of potential for accounting is big data. The vast amount of datasets could not only be used for automation but also for enhanced large-scale analysis. As such, audit processes may be carried out in a much more precise and focused way, with much less room for error. It can also be a vital tool for risk managers, as this technology gives a better view of possible financial risks, even giving advice on how to deal with specific situations.

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However, it's not easy for most companies to transform their large amounts of data into insightful and actionable information — it will require specialised data analysts to distill meaningful reports. It's expected that businesses across industries will start looking for people to fill these kinds of positions, as they come to realise the importance of their work.

The effect of technology on the job will be twofold. On the one hand, repetitive, mind-numbing chores like data entry will be perfect for computers. On the other hand, the increasing sophistication of accounting automation might make it seem like accountants are on the verge of losing their job. That's not the case — at least not for now, nor in the near future. In the short term, artificial intelligence will create new possibilities for software to support humans, rather than replace them.

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The effect of increased regulation on accounting

More and more large corporations are taking advantage of relaxed tax rules in specific countries, and while this is technically legal, many companies also illegally try avoid paying taxes. At this point it seems unavoidable that lots of countries will consider making large-scale changes to their tax rules in the near future, and this will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the accounting industry.

As data becomes increasingly important, the amount of time spent on making sure these large datasets comply with regulation will also increase — that's just how it goes.

Stay flexible

While we can make educated guesses, it's impossible to precisely predict the future of the accounting industry. Whatever you do, it's of paramount importance to always keep a flexible attitude, embracing changes and always trying out new ways to make your job easier.

Accounting will keep changing, just as it has been doing for thousands of years. Resisting to ride this wave will only slow you down. 

Always be one step ahead with Spendesk

However accounting will change in the future, Spendesk will always be by your side. Our product is continuously evolving to include the latest technologies and we're always coming up with new ways to make accounting easier — and maybe even fun.

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Faustine Rohr-Lacoste

Faustine is Head of Community at Spendesk. She is in charge of CFO Connect, a community of modern finance leaders.