Finance is an ever-changing industry and accountants need to adapt to keep up. Accounting is more competitive today than at any time in history, as accountants strive to match the expectations of increasingly demanding clients.

Osidon CEO and co-founder Hennie Ferreira says the role of the traditional accountant is set to change dramatically.

“The boom in technology across numerous industries has meant opportunities for advancement in how professionals do business,” he says. “Accounting is no exception. Many of the once tedious tasks performed by accountants are now performed by artificial intelligence (AI), allowing professionals to focus on more advisory roles that brings greater value to clients.”

Osidon is a local South African company and recently introduced what it believes to be the first online digital accountant, paving the way for job creation and increased compliance among SMMEs. Ferreira says AI has integrated itself with other aspects of our daily lives including the chatbot revolution, smart home networks and applications, and assistive voice-based technologies like Alexa and Siri.

“AI is positioned to deliver an immense opportunity to accountants as well and promises to bring a new standard of efficiency to their own specific set of decisions and tasks. In the grander scheme of accounting advancements, AI could radically change the profession in its entirety.”

Regulatory bodies, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) have now included IT as part of their syllabus, recognizing the importance of technology in the industry.

Meanwhile, despite suggestions that robots will replace the human element, Ferreira says AI is actually poised to assist human decision-making, rather than replace it entirely.

“In fact, employment for accountants is expected to grow 10% through 2026, higher than average. AI can take on the tedious work that takes up so much time, data entry and reconciliation, and will also eliminate errors, reducing liability. With the mundane tasks handled, accountants will be free to engage in more advisory roles. They’ll be able to focus on strategy such as process improvement, cost control and capital optimization and will still have control over sensitive information.”

Ferreira says that, with the new system, business owners will have access to live reporting of their financial statements as opposed to weekly or monthly reports as in the past. This will go a long way to assist business owners to plan and make business decisions based on live information.

“We have a passion for entrepreneurs and SMME’ and therefore we do everything we can to contribute to the success of small businesses. We believe that by removing obstacles, we will be able to empower them to create more job opportunities and contribute to the economy and society as a whole. When SMME’s are able to focus on developing their business they can actively contribute to the growing economy,” he says.