Chartered accountants need to adapt to stay relevant

Automation, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and IoT are disrupting the way CAs function

Chartered accountants (CAs) will have to embrace new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to remain relevant or risk doing low-paying jobs, senior industry executives said during a conference in Dubai on Saturday.

“What is most important for CAs is to keep abreast of technology skills to remain relevant. Otherwise, they will find themselves doing low-paid jobs. High-paying jobs will get automated. The CAs need to understand high-value jobs where they can apply skills in a much better way,” said Abdul Rafeq, proprietor at A. Rafeq and Associates.

He acknowledged that CAs are adopting new technologies but not at a fast pace. “Quite often, they are caught up in the routine grind. They need to look at how to invest in the future. All of them may not be able to do it but if a few can, they will become trendsetters.”

Rafeq was speaking during a conference titled ‘Empowering CAs to meet challenges of digital transformation’ organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Dubai chapter) and the UAE’s first English daily Khaleej Times.

Babu Jayendran, information systems audit and SAP GRC Consultant, said robotic process automation, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and Internet of Things (IoT) would disrupt the way CAs function in their day-to-day work.

He noted that not many businesses are using AI for business processes because not many people are coming forward to contribute to algorithms being used in AI today in their respective domains.

“CAs are good at business processes end-to-end. They also know the risks of each events in that cycle such as purchasing, goods receipt and supplier invoice, etc. They are the best people to give the learning algorithm for artificial intelligence. That is not happening now. I think CAs can contribute a lot by giving domain knowledge for learning algorithm in AI,” Jayendran said.

Jacqui Bekker, head of Sage One Advisers, said cloud accounting technology is the future of the financial industry.

“We see a massive shift in accounting practices so much so that they are even questioning business models. Accountants offered services to business owners such as capturing data and hourly billings, etc. They can’t do it now because much of what they used to do has become digitised. So, they’re now moving into advisory services.”

Tariq Qureishy, founder and CEO of MAD Talks, said the world for financial professionals is going to fundamentally shift because their job will not exist in five to 10 years. “Accountants will become trusted advisors, ethical specialists and data risk managers. VR, AR and AI are changing banking and compliance structures.”

Sachin Kumar, chief strategic partner, Manohar Chowdhry & Associates, and Anand P. Jangid of Quadrisk Advisors, also addressed the forum.

Earlier, Naveen Sharma, chairman of ICAI (Dubai chapter); Mahmood Bangara, vice-chairman, ICAI (Dubai chapter); and Anish Mehta, secretary, ICAI (Dubai chapter) gave the welcome speeches.

“Our profession is undergoing tremendous change because of advancements in technologies. Automation, robotics and blockchain are changing the way we all work,” Sharma said.

Mehta said CAs have to mould themselves in this era of digital transformation to survive in the market.

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