What impact will Artificial Intelligence have on accounting and audit services? Can blockchain technology and the use of artificial intelligence make an accountant and the audit of financial statements obsolete? Undoubtedly, the use of digital technology and specifically artificial intelligence have the potential to significantly affect accounting and the routine of an accountant.
Rapid technological developments such as blockchain, robotic process automation, Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are radically changing the way financial statements get audited today.
Artificial intelligence and related technologies are issues that have been of great concern to experts and professional bodies in recent years, since they had to take into consideration their impact on labour relations and to determine the skills a professional should have in the future.
The truth is that the accounting profession has evolved a lot over the last decade in terms of technology adoption, but there are several factors that will affect the transition to integrated digital technology systems, such as the age of existing IT systems and the compatibility of data.
However, one of the main factors to be considered is education and the training of human resources. The importance of the human factor cannot be questioned. Therefore, the topic of discussion among all stakeholders includes the training of accountants, particularly the new types of non-technical and technological skills that modern accountants must have in order to be able to cope effectively in the technological world. In any case, their training must be continuous and redefined, with a strong focus on information technology.
Therefore, whether it is blockchain, robotic or intelligent systems, the future professional has to follow an education plan beyond the standard CPE.
He has to decide what new skills he must possess to ensure an overall roadmap on his future position in auditing. The ideal professional is described as a person of global education and training who has acquired a combination of non-technical and digital skills as well as leadership ones.
Acknowledging the multiple benefits of artificial intelligence, such as improved productivity and innovation, upgraded risk assessments, a higher degree of accuracy and unrestricted and secure access to real-time data, several audit firms have decided to invest in the ever-increasing demands and needs of their customers. Audit firms are expected to be in need of more cyber-security and IT experts as automation will take up most of the work.
KPMG has recently announced an investment plan in technology, human resources and innovation. It plans to spend US $5 billion over the next five years to strengthen its leading position in the digital transformation of professional services. This programme is currently implemented all around the world. The platform has advanced in-depth analysis and prediction capabilities within a single cloud base. It also adopts the latest technologies in cognitive and artificial intelligence.
So far, technology cannot reproduce human intelligence and human advice. Technology, however, creates an opportunity for auditors to use a new generation of tools so as to radically improve audit quality while providing upgraded consulting services.
In essence, auditors are given the tools to redefine the profession and build even greater public confidence in them. The key to seizing this opportunity demands a culture of life-long training and education and the ability to adapt.
By Christoforos Georgiou
* Principal, KPMG Limited, 24 200 000, [email protected]
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of KPMG International or of KPMG Group’s member companies. The KPMG brand and logo are registered trademarks of KPMG International Cooperative, a Swiss organization.
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