Technology and its impact on the accountant’s work

Those of us who have been in the accounting world for several years sometimes have conversations with young people who are just starting their studies in this career, and one of the topics that catches their attention is our experience when we compare current tools with those we used years ago.

If we went back 40 years and listed the accounting tasks from those years, we could remember ourselves filing invoices and paper documents, writing on accounting books with a pen and on 14-column worksheets with a pencil. We used to hire warehouses to store an endless number of lever arch files each month. In the case of auditors, they used to search for physical documents in lever arch files, photocopy hundreds of documents, and add the accounting books again with calculators. The rapid use of typewriters and calculators with no mistakes was an important virtue. All these manual tasks took many hours of the accounting professional’s work, so together with the intellectual work required, the work day extended until late at night.

Now, current technological advances have favored the accounting work given that, due to the technological tools that have been appearing (such as computers, Internet, ERPs, etc.), many of the tasks listed above have been automated and/or digitalized. For example, the information to be recorded can be “uploaded” to an accounting system in a matter of minutes and it is no longer necessary to manually record each transaction. Thus, the accounting professional can have more time to review and interpret the processed information and prepare management reports that allow an appropriate decision-making process, as well as achieve a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives.

Although it is true that efficiency and productivity are very important advantages that technology has provided to the accounting profession, it has also determined the modernization of this profession and the new role of accountants. Technological changes are now occurring at a speed never seen before, transforming businesses and processes. Accountants must accompany the Management in adapting to these changes and must even see the future of the impact of new technologies on businesses. This is the reason why the new profile of an accountant is no longer that of a “bookkeeper” or, more currently, an “accountant sitting long hours in front of their computer”. The current accountant must be a professional who adapts to the changes in the environment, who has sound knowledge of new technologies and who, now more than ever, has the skills to lead the changes required by the organisation.

Technological updates are advancing exponentially and will generate greater challenges to our profession. The possibility of the practical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our professional life is already a reality. How we use it and at what speed we learn to take advantage of it in recurring accounting, taxation, or auditing tasks is already a huge challenge.

Finally, it is clear that our profession has had a positive impact with technological changes, as most of the tasks that an accountant performed ten years ago can now be done by a computer. Today most of the analysis and reporting work can also be done thanks to robotics and artificial intelligence. For such reason, accountants and auditors must have new roles and functions within the organisation and educational institutions must immediately address this process of change.


Arturo Arce

Senior Accountant from the Business Services & Outsourcing Business Unit of BDO in Peru