Gulp! Here’s One List We Don’t Want to be On

March 10, 2017 | By Paul Latham

The best dressed list.

The richest people list.

The sexiest women/men alive list.

If you woke up one day to find your name on any of these lists, you’d probably be pleased.

Then there’s this.

Last week Shelly Palmer came out with the list of The 5 Jobs Robots Will Take First.

The winners (or in this case the losers) are middle management… commodity salespeople… journalists, authors & announcers… doctors (robots make better diagnosticians and surgeons than humans)… and, you guessed it, accountants & bookkeepers.

“Robo-accounting is in its infancy,” notes Palmer, “but it’s awesome at dealing with accounts payable and receivable, inventory control, auditing and several other accounting functions that humans used to be needed to do. Big Four auditing is in for a big shake-up, very soon.”

No use quibbling with Mr. Palmer’s assessment. His bona fides are impressive. As the CEO of The Palmer Group, a regular commentator on CNBC and CNN, and one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Technology, he makes a living anticipating the future. Besides, he’s stuck on the list too, as a journalist, author and commentator.

So, what do we do? Palmer suggests adapting our skills to augment man-machine partnerships. Also, “figure out what your job must evolve into in order to continue to transfer the value of your personal intelllectual property into wealth.”

Fair enough. But maybe easier said than done. Fortunately, a number of forward-thinkers in our industry have been given this topic some thought.

Bill Sheridan, Chief Communications Officer at the Maryland Association of CPAs, says, “Our opportunity is learning to work with the machines. To do work that the machines can't do and to truly become that trusted advisor to our clients and customers.”
Bill quotes Cathy Engelbert, the CEO at Deloitte: "I still believe professional judgment and expertise is not replaceable by machines… I've never met a machine with courage and empathy, one that can read body language and adjust what they say... While we're going to be digesting larger volumes of data and information, the key is to use artificial intelligence to augment what the human does."

Jim Bourke, technology maven at Withum Smith+Brown, believes advisory services are the key to the industry’s future growth and success.

“CPAs need to come to the realization their world is changing,” he says. “Every CPA today has the tools that they need to be involved in advisory services. Their skill sets, their background perfectly positions them to help CEOs to take the company to the next level.

“It’s not about producing financials. I know that’s what we went to school for. I know that’s what we’re licensed for. That’s part of it, but that’s not what it’s going to be in the future.”

Now if all this is too overwhelming and you want to switch careers, here’s Palmer’s list of The 5 Jobs Robots Will Take Last:
1. Pre-school and Elementary School Teacher
2. Professional Athlete
3. Politician
4. Judge
5. Mental Health Professional