PKF International
PKF Poutsma Lemon Limited
PKF Poutsma Lemon Ltd, Keri Keri, New Zealand
Accountants and business advisers

Could a robot do your taxes?

June 2017

You may have followed along with the TVNZ broadcast last week of "What's Next?" - a five night, interactive series that explored what New Zealand could look like in 2037. Night one was technology. Or essentially, how technology would take our jobs away. Apparently robots will chew up 46 per cent of existing jobs within 20 years and that poor old accountants, for example, will see their numbers slashed from 17,669 to 19. Which led me to question, how?

With the advancement of accounting software and automation of government bodies such as IRD, a lot of our job has become systematic and robotic. The savvy business owner is now looking after their own accounting needs (through the likes of Xero) and can determine their net profit, asset position and cash balance at the click of a mouse.

So have I been done out of a job?

In short, not yet. Any accounting program is only as good as the information that is put into it. As the old saying goes, "Rubbish in, rubbish out." If a transaction isn't treated correctly it will askew the results. Despite popular opinion, there is no big encyclopedia of accounting know-how that you can read on the day you decide to be self-employed. Knowing the difference between what is or isn't tax deductible can save you money. Or it may be as simple as accessing the right software, paying the right price for it, and getting the right training so you can manage it yourself.

At PKF, we have always been passionate about working with our clients and sharing our knowledge through our coaching procedures.  We are currently developing a new series of Xero training seminars which will be launched in the second half of the year. If have you have any suggestions for these, we welcome your input.  

The future of accounting is definitely changing as we move away from preparing financial statements and tax returns to business development and mentoring. The conversation has changed from how much tax you have to pay to where are you going to be in five years time, and how are you going to get there? When you can have that conversation with a robot then I'll start thinking about my next career move.

Jancy Stott, Chartered Accountant


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