The Ghost of the Bookkeeping Future Looks Like …

As the new 2016-2017 financial year has arrived, and on the eve of #XeroCon and #MYOBPartnerConnect, I thought I might make some predictions about cloud bookkeeping in Australia that is happening now and will continue to happen over the next five years ….

Traditional bookkeeping will go the way of bookstores and video rental shops.  As artificial intelligence is deployed into our bookkeeping software, the predictive ability of coding transactions will be vastly improved.  Reconciliations will no longer be needed for control accounts like PAYG Withholding, GST and Superannuation Payable – there will always be a report showing exactly what is owing, and what adjustments have been made.  When superannuation and BAS obligations are paid, the coding will be guided by the software.  This will save the bookkeeping profession hours of tick and flick reconciliations.

xero-logo-hires-RGB resizedThere will no longer be such a thing as ‘online banking’.  The bank and the accounting software will become one and the same thing.  Your accounting software will be the single source of truth.  Transactions will be initiated from the accounting software, and the coding will generate the bank payment.  The accounting software will drive the withdrawals from the bank as suppliers are paid and expenditure is made.  Customers will no longer send remittance advices.  Their accounting systems will be linked so invoices will be automatically marked as paid when deposits are made.

Compliance and communication with third parties will be done entirely within the accounting software, after periods are locked.  BAS lodgements and taxation returns will be created within the accounting software and lodged from within the software.  BAS and taxation rules will validate and check the data for the business owner.

Paper receipts will not be issued.  All expenditure documentation will be digitally sent to your bookkeeping system via a unique identification code provided to all suppliers and retailers.  Our society will become cashless making cash registers, petty cash and deposit banking redundant.

Add on solutions will further partner with the accounting software providers to provide a seamless solution.  Over time, the functionality of these solutions will become part of the accounting software and made available on a pay per usage basis.  The big accounting systems will become even more powerful as the add on solutions are absorbed (think Apple) AccountRight-Standard-box-AU-Large.

It will no longer be possible to command a premium rate for data entry into bookkeeping systems.  The bookkeeper will manage and guide the data, not record it. Business owners will manage most of the bookkeeping function themselves, using available technology.

So, that sounds rather scary for us BAS and Tax agents, doesn’t it?  If we refuse to change and adapt – it will no longer be possible to provide services to our client base.  We agents must become technology and software experts in addition to business advisors.  We must be able recommend best practice for our clients, and train them how to use and interpret the data the system generates.   The only way we will profit from the changes in our profession is to be on the cutting edge of available technology.  Clients will look to us to recommend ways to put time back in their day and improve processes.

It is an exciting, and confronting time, for accountants and bookkeepers.  We are known as a traditional, conservative profession and it is difficult to imagine what these predicted changes will mean to our careers.  The best advice I can give you is embrace this change, invest in professional development, and move with your clients to these new platforms.  There will always be a role for software training, and management / interpretation / prediction of data.

Well, you heard it here first!  I’ll check back in the future to see how quickly these changes are introduced.  Bring it on!!