Watch Out, Accountants And Auditors! Computers Are Coming For Your Job.

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In last week’s Bloomberg Businessweek Jobs Issue, the magazine dived into one of the hottest topic around jobs: Automation and Technology. As we all are very aware, industry such as manufacturing, which doesn’t require much of formal education, has been losing its jobs to machines and cheap overseas labors. However, according to this data, one of the best paid, bachelor’s-degree-required, and most vulnerable occupations to the automation are accountants and auditors.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-jobs-automation-risk/#footnote-2
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

With +1.2 million people employed, accountants and auditors group is the biggest job category that requires bachelor’s degree and is more than 90% likely to be automated. Insurance underwriters, with 99% probability to be computerized, is the most likely to be automated job category that requires bachelor’s degree. Other bachelor’s degree required job categories that are vulnerable to automation include loan officers, credit analysts, compensation and benefits managers, and technical writers.

 

Companies Disrupting Big 4 and Accounting Industry

All of the industries and jobs that are at risk to be replaced by technology have companies who are applying or trying to apply their technology to disrupt the traditional industry leaders. For instance, laborers and freight, stock and material movers group, which employs over 2.5 million people and 85% at risk of computerization, is soon to lose their job to autonomous car developing companies such as Uber Technologies, Alphabet, Apple, Tesla and drone developing company such as Amazon. With 97 percent probability of computerization, 3.5 million cashiers are at risk to lose their jobs to online retailers and newly brick-and-mortar Amazon. Insurance underwriters are losing their jobs to start-ups like Lemonade Insurance and Oscar Health. 2.5 million waiters and waitresses are losing their jobs to countless food delivery startups. Hotel workers and taxi drivers are losing their jobs to those sharing economy goliaths–Airbnb and Uber Technologies.

So the question is, where are companies disrupting accounting and auditing industry, especially the Big 4 who have dominated the market for decades? According to AngelList, a startup that helps you seek startups, there are 746 accounting start-ups around the world, with $3.6 million average valuations. I am not sure yet which one of them would be disrupting Big 4 and accounting industries, but also looking at CB Insights’ recently published Fintech 250 lists and EAAS lists (“Expert Automation & Augmentation Software”), I got to get a glimpse of the potential Airbnb of accounting and auditing.

 

Source: CB Insights

Here are few companies that caught my eyes:

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SMACC is a German Fintect that, according to AngelList description, “applies artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help SMBs master their everyday financial tasks.” Using startup buzzwords like AI and machine learning, SMACC is trying to convince the world that they can revolutionize the world of how accounting has been done up until now.

  • AppZen

AppZen is a California-based startup that provides “the world’s first artificial intelligence powered solution for travel and entertainment expense report creation, compliance, and audit.” The company’s AI can audit in real-time 100% of the expenses and examine for the possible fraud, misuse, or violation of the law. And, AI will assign a “risk score” to every report so that auditors can focus their time on the fraction of expense reports that are high-risk.

  • Freee

Freee is a Tokyo-based accounting SaaS company which was founded by former Google employee Daisuke Sasaki. The company’s software can sync with bank accounts and credit card accounts and automatically categorizes income and spending through text analysis. All users have to do to create financial statement is to review what freee has created and click approve. By August 2015, the company’s software attracted about 380,000 customers, according to this article. With a total of seven funding rounds and $84.5 million in their pocket, freee is the most resourceful startup in this list, yet the article says we shouldn’t count on seeing them abroad soon.

Which company will grow to disrupt the accounting industry and keep executives at Big 4 accounting firms stay up at night? I am very thrilled for their future, and hopefully, they will bring some excitement to the industry.

 

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Heeyun Lee

Lee is a junior at Pace University studying Business Analytics and Finance. He