Are firms missing out on acquiring accounting talent by not adopting AI?

  • Eli Fathi, CEO at MindBridge Ai

  • 27.11.2018 11:45 am
  • undisclosed

Lost Generation

Over the past decade, as the accountancy recruitment crunch has deepened, firms have experimented with any number of strategies in a bid to both attract and retain the latest generation of graduates. Yet, from the introduction of flexible working hours to offices with beanbags and sleeping pods a la Silicon Valley, these strategies are not working for one essential reason: millennials find the job dull because they are focused on labour-intensive activities versus creative and challenging tasks.

With tech start-ups, innovative organisations, and consultancies lining up to entice top graduate talent into the business, it is little surprise that these digital first individuals are eschewing the pedestrian task of data gathering and number crunching, opting instead to work for innovative companies at the cutting edge of technology.

There is no value in management or partners bemoaning millennials’ lack of willingness to earn their stripes, to experience the tedium of audit field work traditionally required to make it to the next level: the fact is times have changed. Millennials not only have different expectations, but as accountancy graduates, they have skills and expertise that are in high demand outside the profession.

For an accountancy profession lagging significantly behind in technology adoption, there is a very real risk of missing out on the next generation of talented individuals.

Uninspired and Uninspiring

Of course, the problem starts before these individuals enter the workforce. While universities are experiencing a higher number of applicants to accountancy degrees than ever before, there are good reasons why fewer graduates are going on to enter the profession.

The vast majority of undergraduates spend three years preparing for a career of mind-numbing tedium that is the manual audit or tax assessment. Not only are universities lagging behind in delivering graduates with the skills required by today’s accountancy businesses, but accountancy firms are undermining the appeal of the profession by not providing challenging work. The good news is that leading educational institutions are recognising the need to embed AI in their audit and accountancy course curriculums.

Business Imbalance 

The implications of this recruitment dip are already being felt: while accountancy firms have always operated on a triangle style model, with many juniors, fewer managers and a handful of partners, the lack of junior level recruitment is creating a diamond shaped business, where managers dominate and there’s a lack of fresh talent.

It is the managers who are bearing the brunt and carrying out the leg work previously undertaken by junior staff. The result is endemic lack of job satisfaction that goes up the ranks, potentially creating an imbalance that could affect both the quality of client services and profitability. How can a firm charge a manager’s fee to conduct a junior’s job?

AI Transforms Expectations

It is the tools that will transform the day to day activity of accountants and remove the mind numbing banality of data collection and analysis, enticing and inspiring millennials into the profession. Offering this generation the chance to immediately embark upon added value work, such as the ability to leverage AI to identify fraud, spot anomalies or reveal opportunities for business improvement, plays directly into their career objectives: making a difference and increasing job satisfaction.

Millennials have choices, and accountancy graduates are voting with their feet by choosing firms at the sharp end of innovation and change. To compete, accountancy firms need to offer a different work experience that doesn’t mean new working models or reward schemes. It means an entirely different role, one that leverages technology to undertake the routine number crunching, releasing the accountant to immediately embrace a consultative role and deliver tangible value to clients.


Other Blogs