"Robots are not coming for your jobs. New technology means that jobs will be reinvented."
Finance professionals should not be intimidated by rapid technology changes but should embrace them, because their productivity can be enhanced, especially when it comes to onerous processes such as corporate income tax returns.
This is according to the product manager at software firm Adapt IT, Michael Mncube, who was speaking on the first day of the Finance Indaba Africa 2019 in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
With South Africa being on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, which is underpinned by smart technology and how it changes the way humans work, live and interact with the world, finance professionals will probably see big changes. But instead of being fearful that the fourth industrial revolution will threaten their job security, Michael said finance professionals should be excited.
However, he cautioned that if finance professionals ignore the pace of technological changes, they might get left behind.
“Robots are not coming for your jobs. New technology means that finance jobs will be reinvented instead of being replaced. You have to upskill. Accounting jobs will move into new skills and specialised roles,” Michael, who has a 12-year career in bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting, told the audience.
“With automation, it means that accountants will be strategic advisors, and move into advisory roles. They will have to build their reputation as trusted advisors.”
One of the ways technology can create efficiencies is when corporates submit their income tax returns, which is a complicated process.
In this process, financial professionals have to keep up with ever-changing tax legislation, shifting deadlines for income tax returns and submitting financial statements that accurately reflect revenue and taxable income.
Michael said if finance professionals submit wrong revenue numbers, it could spoil the entire process as the South African Revenue Service (Sars) could accuse them of understating taxable income, resulting in a company’s financial statements being audited or reviewed.
He said cloud tax software solutions – such as the one offered by Adapt IT – can automate the income tax submission process, which is usually done manually by finance professionals and could take up to eight hours.
“Cloud and automated software are not the future, but are for the now. They help finance professionals to avoid costly mistakes by getting it right.”
Automated software could allow professionals to store historical tax returns on the cloud, sync past correspondences with Sars, track the work done by multiple professionals on a company’s returns and create tax returns 60 days before a deadline imposed by the tax authority.
Michael cited one incident where it took one finance professional about 30 minutes to submit an income tax return using cloud-based software, instead of the usual eight hours.