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Mind & Machine

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Mind & Machine 1
Saloni Jain, Director, Investment Banking, Sun Capital Advisory Services

Being future-ready means to be aware, having the
capacity to predict and adapt to the emerging trends and innovations

A vast majority, around 92%, of the finance and accounting professionals in our country and elsewhere, are not ready for the future. They are unable to anticipate or predict the coming revolution that will fundamentally alter the way they work as things go digital in the coming days. In fact, a child born today might never need to handle paper money in life. More and more, it’s not just the money that’s gone digital, but everything that goes along with it as well: receipts, record keeping, audits, taxes, finance etc.

Eventually, accounting firms will go away, just like bookstores. Cloud Computing, DIY Accounting and Artificial Intelligence will take over bookkeeping and data entry. The entire books of accounts will be created automatically as and when the transaction takes place or even early without any space or team.

Auditors, rather the current way audit processes work, will go away too. With Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology there will be a Real time audit termed as “Smart Audit.” There will be no need to file a tax return, the government agencies will have all information and will deduct tax accordingly. People won’t be able to avoid or evade taxes and they need not ask accountants to prepare tax returns. Tax scrutiny assessments will happen through electronic means, queries raised by the Tax Authorities and the submissions made during a scrutiny assessment proceeding will be carried out online.

There will be data linkage between different arms of the government and financial Institutions enabling the Tax Authorities to capture information about an assessee. There will be seamless assimilation of different aspects of taxpayer information such as bank accounts, incomes, expenses and investments through the key field of Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Aadhaar. The GST filling procedure is an example on how the entire procedure is getting automated and transparent. This will result in particulars of a transaction and tax event becoming readily available to the Tax Authorities.

Being future-ready is beyond just being agile and is defined as having the necessary capacity to be aware, predictive and adaptive of the emerging trends, innovations and changes in business, population and the social environment.

 If everything gets automated what is the future of a Professional CA?

Technology shall not necessarily eliminate the use of accountants or accounting. Today’s accountants will be tomorrow’s business strategists and growth directors for their clients. They may surely do something absolutely different and much more valuable.

Blockchain will reduce the potential for errors when reconciling complex information from multiple sources. Further, accounting records are not alterable once committed under Blockchain, even by the owners of the system. There will be “double entry accounting” + audit = “triple entry accounting”. From a taxpayer’s perspective a number of routine taxes can be largely automated by linking compliance forms with the taxpayer’s accounting system. Interfaces could be developed where the compliance forms are auto-filled the moment an accounting entry is made. Tax logic can also be built into the system under a decision tree model. Even simplistic technology solutions can significantly aid an in-house tax function.

So love it or hate it accountants are expected to stay updated with these advances in order to keep their clients happy. Professionals need to increase their competency by getting out there and attending meet ups, using social channels, reading books and surfing the web – there’s lots of information to digest online.

Technology will make accountancy practices user-friendly for staff and clients, reducing fixed costs in running the practice. It’s important for clients to see their accountants as tech-friendly. There are lots of opportunities for the tech-savvy accountant. Focus should be on cloud and harnessing good data to provide clients with sound advice, and automate processes – thus giving you more time to add value to the client’s bottom line.

I believe using technology is the key driver for growth in the accounting profession and thereby urge fellow accountants to embrace technology in their daily activities to promote efficiency and better practice. Let’s master communication not macros, let’s develop Strategic Aptitude, instead of being spreadsheet savvy. Let’s all go on a mission to develop the skills in Data Analysis, Effective Communication, Relationship Building, Creativity, Business Acumen and Tech Savvy. Because technology will continue to change at light speed, accountants who not only have basic IT skills, but also flexibility and adaptability will always be ready to integrate new, more efficient tools into existing processes.

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About the author: IE&M Team

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