Accountants and Artificial Intelligence

Like any profession, accountants need to keep an eye on the future of technology. Nobody wants to develop a skill set that will quickly become obsolete. There is a fair amount of fear and trepidation that the era of big data and artificial intelligence will eat the world as venture capitalist Marc Andreessen once said.

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There was a recent article in the Journal of Accountancy which highlighted ways that PWC has been using AI technology in client engagements.

He said PwC already is working with AI in a few capacities in client engagements. The firm is using an AI platform to help nonaudit clients extract data from their lease agreements as they implement the new FASB lease accounting standard. Without AI, this extraction would take eight to 10 hours to perform for each lease contract, and some clients have thousands of lease contracts. With AI, that time is down to three or four hours per contract, and it’s continuing to decline.

Currently, the influx of new AI technology has not resulted in a loss of CPA jobs. Instead CPA’s have been shuffled to more high value tasks.

However, the author still notes that CPA’s will have to learn new skills in order to work alongside the machines.

Perhaps the most important new skill will be data strategy skills.

I am unaware of any universities that have implemented a course specifically for accountants to learn data strategy skills. I would bet that the first batch of CPA candidates with a couple of data analysis courses under their belts, could parlay that new skill into a more attractive job offer.