ACCOUNTING firms and businesses must prepare for significant challenges stemming from emerging technologies, accounting rules changes and geopolitical developments around the world if they want to thrive, according to PwC Thailand.
“Although the principles under which accounting is performed are likely to remain the same, technology will change the way we process and make use of accounting information,” CEO Sira Intarakum-thornchai told yesterday’s 14th annual conference on financial reporting.
Over the past year, digital technology has significantly altered the way businesses operate. The accounting industry – among those most at risk from automation – is not immune to this change.
The emergence of certain forms of technology such as computer-learning and automated systems, cloud-based solutions and data analytics in particular will have a notable impact on how accounting is performed, he said.
According to PwC Australia’s recent study on work that could be replaced by automated systems, accounting clerks, bookkeepers, data entry staff and office administrative workers are most at risk from computerisation.
“There’s a very high chance that we will see these mundane and simple jobs being replaced within the next two decades,” he said.
Also, cloud accounting software is gaining popularity among small and medium-sized companies for its agility, ease of access and flexibility to change.
Cloud software allows more to be done by one person, with a ready-made platform and tools.
“There may be the future potential for a one-man accounting team,” he said.
The benefits of data analytics include gaining better insight from the massive amount of data belonging to companies, which helps to detect fraudulent incidents and make better predictions to gain opportunities for growth.
“Accountants will be in a position to make good use of the information that they have via predictive analytics and data visualisation, which will help management make complex decisions,” he said.
Chanchai Chaiprasit, partner and clients and market Leader, said businesses need to adjust to important changes, including updates in Thai Financial Reporting Standards as well as potentially more international changes following the impact of the UK’s split from the European Union, and most recently political developments in the US.
“The implications include the extent to which subsidiaries or branches can do business in or with these countries, and companies may even be indirectly affected by counterparties who suffer the direct impact of those changes,” he said.
“Those who have investments in capital markets or trade in foreign currencies might check for impairment in their investments, or take note of exchange rate volatility, at least for a short period.”
Because it is still hard to assess the implications from the election of a new US president and his policies, business leaders need to prepare for uncertainty.
“In the mid to long term, there is the potential for a significant impact on many businesses across industries.
“Business leaders need to rethink their approaches to managing people, expanding into new markets, maintaining their geographical footprint and improving their company’s reputation,” he added.