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Accounting graduates at risk of becoming redundant

The move to single general ledgers, the complete automation of pre-fills from the ATO and the overall reduction in data entry means the work of junior accountants and graduates could become increasingly obsolete, says an accounting firm.

Accounting graduates at risk of becoming redundant
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Interactive Accounting virtual CFO Lisa Callaghan said the traditional role of accounting graduates and juniors has been number crunching and data entry.

With API integration set to be one of the biggest trends over the next five years, however, Ms Callaghan warned there will be a significant reduction in the level of manual processing and data entry that needs to be performed by graduates, making it more difficult to find work.

“There will still be the need for accounting services and the preparation of tax returns and compliance and what have you, but any data entry that is required will come through online accounting software,” she said.

This is a trend that’s also being driven by the ATO and their move to integrate directly with accounting and tax products.

“We’ll start to see the full automation of pre-fills coming in, and that type of data coming into tax products, so it’ll really eliminate the time that it takes an accountant to double enter from one system into another,” Ms Callaghan explained.

The move to a single general ledger by accounting firms, where the same information appears on different systems in real time, will also further drive automation with all of the receipt management and expense management software automatically pushing data into the firm’s accounting software.

While these changes will bring greater efficiency to smaller tech savvy businesses and accounting firms in Australia, allowing them to grow more quickly, it also means the skills taught to young accountants will need a significant overhaul, she said.

“A lot of the work that juniors used to do won’t be required anymore, so you know they’ll need to be educated more quickly into higher level skill sets, because we won’t need as many graduates to perform the data entry function,” Ms Callaghan said.

The expectations businesses have of their accountants have changed with accountants no longer pigeonholed or confined to doing end of year compliance, structuring and reactive services.

“Businesses now want someone they have a closer relationship with, that they’re communicating with more often, so their accountant really becomes a confidence and a regular adviser and mentor to them in their business,” Ms Callaghan said.

“They want to see their accountant every week and every month and they want that really high touch relationship, and that’s the services they’re looking for.”

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