No room for the inbetweeners
It is my belief that technology advances will shake up the accounting profession and that Bookkeepers will assume overall control. Why? Bookkeeping has always been about prime entry. Note the word; prime. If the bookkeeper gets it right at their end, everything else should run smoothly and to plan. HMRC, and their equivalents around the world, have always been concerned about the next stage, accountancy, when accountants get creative and do their best to comply with the various financial rules whilst, at the same time, doing all they can to support their clients. Two masters and a dual role that has long been a thorn in the side of the Taxman. True, HMRC have in recent years named and shamed a few celebrities and high profile ‘wise investors’ who invested in perfectly legal, if sometimes morally questionable schemes. Indeed, if the press is to be believed, they might even have kicked the odd knighthood into touch.
Under the new grand plan, I see accountants enhancing and expanding their role as trusted advisors to those companies who need to plan progression or want to grow and take over the world, or even just Manchester. This is a vital role. There is no shame in being an advisor, particularly a trusted one.
But a good accountant will not want to make big decisions having put their trust in a robot. They will need to have confidence in the figures before them, as will lenders, Banks and shareholders. Client-input figures or AI controlled accounts will not cut it. Enter the bookkeeper. If everything is right at the bookkeeper end, everything else will follow.
If the world of commerce is to be subsumed by blockchain and technology, auditors should start looking around for a job pretty soon. What good is a nine-month-old audit to a shareholder, when they can get up-to-the-minute figures direct to their iPhone? If the whole system is correct at the beginning, and the advisors are entrenched throughout, then the end figures, audited by blockchain, are immediate, accurate and trusted.
The other losers, as I see it, are what I call the inbetweeners; those professionals who are neither one thing nor the other; neither accountant nor bookkeeper. Their days are numbered. Which might explain why some organisations, having been pat on the head but not allowed into the accountants’ club are now desperately seeking to enter the bookkeeping profession, albeit with a watered-down offering that pays lip-service to real bookkeepers. The important thing is that, in doing so, they risk setting back the bookkeeping profession almost 22 years to those dark and thankfully distant days when I was forced to defend bookkeepers against the accusation that they were “the scum of the earth”.
The accounting profession owes it to the ICB Bookkeepers who have raised the standards of bookkeeping to unprecedented heights, not to let their hard work and determination be wasted.