AI to play a key role in strengthening accountants’ position as strategic business partners
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role not only in helping accountants to be a more effective strategic business partner to their clients, but also in keeping small businesses afloat, according to new research from Intuit QuickBooks.
Almost nine in ten (86%) accountants agree that within the next five years, AI will play a crucial role in their ability to be an effective strategic business partner to their clients. The most commonly cited benefit of AI is that the time saved through automation (providing personalisation, prediction and learning) leaves more opportunity for broader business advice (39% of those surveyed agreed), followed by being able to reduce the burden on human resource (33%) and an improved ability to spot data trends (33%).
With accountants now relying on AI to elevate their role from that of bookkeeper to strategic business partner, AI is a popular area of investment for 2023. Separate research from QuickBooks shows a huge 95% of accountants will invest in new technologies in 2023, to the tune of an average £10,000 – £24,999 – and AI is the most likely area of investment (45%).
Those who don’t adopt AI are at risk of being left behind. More than two in five (43%) accountants agree that firms who do not adopt AI in the next five years will face a lack of business growth due to the burden of admin on capacity. Others believe firms will lose clients, either due to less time available to cultivate relationships (39%) or competitors using AI being able to offer richer insights and faster turnaround times (36%).
AI can improve the small business survival rate
In the UK, 62% of small businesses fail within the first five years. But 76% of accountants agree that small businesses partnered with an accountant using AI are more likely to survive than working with one who does not. When asked why, 44% pointed to the fact that richer insights from AI mean accountants can offer better quality advice, and forecast clients’ cashflow more accurately.
Improved small business survival from AI is also linked to accountants having more time to offer broader business advice (39%) and being able to spot any potential problems quicker with real-time insights (35%).
Nicola Savill, director at Moore Kingston Smith comments: “Accountants are well versed in applying technology to improve their clients’ accounting and reporting. Increasingly, the focus is now on applying this technology to their own internal practices to become more efficient and effective in their operations. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a big part of this, particularly in making routine, repetitive tasks that provide little in the way of personal development opportunities more efficient.
“We see AI as an opportunity to create capacity in our teams, enabling them to work more closely with clients on areas such as interpretation of their financial results, cashflow management and helping them achieve their goals. Automation brings clear client benefits; for example, AI has the ability to follow a set of rules consistently and never has an off day or forgets! It can also highlight areas of risk for exploration and interrogation without needing to spend hours reviewing multiple data sets. This leaves more time for accounting professionals to focus on more valuable human experiences and relationships with clients, underpinned with richer insights.”