In a survey of 200 UK accountants tasked with bookkeeping, it was found that for 81% the automation of simple tasks could save around 2 hours a day on average. It was even higher for Scottish accountants, believing that they could save around 3-4 hours a day, unlocking almost £120,000 in untapped revenue per year.
Accounting, in general, is still far behind the rate of technological adoption, especially when it comes to AI solutions.50 Despite 50% admitting it would be useful for accurate auto-reconciling of data in client accounts and preventing incorrect information (44%), 40% of accountants aged over 55-years old were simply not interested in using it and one in 10 believing that the automation will be ruled out of accounting altogether.
This is despite larger practices on the whole (90% of those surveyed with over 300 employees) admitting that they were interested in the technology.
The age gap certainly continues when it comes to industry predictions, with 77% of 18-35-years old believing typical accounting tasks will be automated within five years.
And when it comes to the difference between men and women, twice as many females were more inclined to trust in the opportunities for growth that new technology can provide (43% vs 20%). Yet male accountants were twice as likely to believe that technology will provide wider access to challenger banks and new finance providers (42% vs 21%).
The surprising survey was conducted by cloud accounting software FreeAgent who encourage bookkeepers to let go of the day-to-day administration in favour of seeking new customers. The survey found that on average, the time saved could add up to an additional £68,000 a year in additional revenue.
Ed Molyneux, co-founder and CEO at FreeAgent said, “By simply eliminating mundane, complicated processes around simple tasks, automation can bring explosive change that truly has the potential to revolutionise accountancy as a profession. In our survey, we see that accountants – and women, in particular – believe automation can open the door to opportunities for growth in business and create the chance for them to excel. With less time spent on admin and logging data, accountants then have time to focus on other aspects of the job including more consultative work, which will also bring significant benefits to their clients.”
Ed launched the survey with a webinar on Tuesday, speakers included: Marieke Flament, CEO of Mettle, Julia Kermonde, CEO at Freelancer & Contractor Services Association, Tony Margaritelli, Chairman at Independent Certified Practicing Accountants and Dinusha Weerawardane, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance at the University of West London.
The discussion was certainly passionate on the amount of time accountants and bookkeepers are wasting across inputting and manual data tasks when the solution of trusting new software could be much simpler. Although for some, these types of skills are starting to become much more recognised, Dinusha Weerawardane summed it up. She said:
“There will be increased expectations for support from business finance for example, partly because business partnering itself will shift upstream from budgeting and reporting to include things like scenario planning and advanced capacity.
“It’s clear that there will be a lot more cross-functional collaboration between business people, tech people, and finance to come.”