Earlier this month The Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary was a keynote speaker at the AICPA ENGAGE Conference and had encouraging news for the CPA. There has been a lot of talk about the impact technology and robotics will have on business operations. Mark Cuban, O'Leary's counterpart on Shark Tank, previously had an interview with the AICPA on his comments that he would not want to be an accountant right now due to the increased role of technology in the business world. He expressed that increased technology will decrease the need for accountants.
O'Leary countered these statements, saying that there will always be a need for accountants and even an increased need to "mitigate risk at every stage". O'Leary went on accountants will be the voice of reason, showing ‘If we do it this way, here is the tax implication. If we do it this way, this is the cost implication.’ The profession is going to continue to flourish,”
He expressed as well how accountants are the personal connection, the ones to explain everything in a way technology can't. He's right, because a machine may be able to generate numbers but it can't understand how a company wants to operate. Robotics can't foresee the clients wants the way an accountant does or give knowledgeable advice that is both functional on a business and personal level, let alone understandable to the untrained mind.
What O'Leary is talked about with the AICPA was the role of an advisor. Right now, technology is an increasingly effective tool for accountants rather than a replacement for them. The CPA can utilize information provided by technology to better understand the challenges and offer solutions, but it's still going to take a trained analytical mind to translate the numbers into decisions.
So what does this mean for you? Well, it means you are going to need to stay up to date with the technology and processes to you can offer the most advanced services. Falling behind on the times here could mean an employer sees you as outdated. You'll want to be actively involved with resources offered to accountants by the AICPA's Information Management and Technology Assurance (IMTA), new CPA's should check out the AICPA's Young CPA Network, the American Association of Finance and Accounting (AAFA), and the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants (PASBA). They'll all offer great resources and community to connect and learn from.
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