Future-ready accountants: building key capabilities in the age of AI

There is significant media debate about the future of work and the redundancy of roles due to AI and automation. We pose the question ‘Is it plausible that technology will supersede and eliminate the position of an accountant?’ 


Accru Melbourne is a 100+ person business that delivers positive financial solutions to through exceptional client leadership. We acknowledge the accounting profession is at the forefront of a transformation and that AI and automation may lead to the redundancy of some professional accounting roles.  However, we are more excited about the potential and new opportunities AI presents to transform the nature of the work we do. In this article we delve into the essential capabilities that accountants need to cultivate to thrive in an increasingly automated landscape. 

AI is relieving accountants from mundane tasks, allowing them to focus on higher-value activities. This shift enables accountants to have more time to understand individual client needs, provide personalised services and offer tailored financial advice, ultimately strengthening client trust and loyalty. By placing the client at the centre of our focus, accountants can strengthen relationships, contribute to better informed decision-making and deliver more personalised and innovative services. 

The collaboration between human expertise and AI capabilities is a catalyst propelling the accounting profession toward a more strategic advisory service model. This shift creates value, not only for our business, but also for clients. In this evolving landscape, we see the accountant of the future having more time to understand individual client needs and the integration of AI empowers accountants to make better-informed decisions. AI-generated insights, derived from accurate and real-time data analysis, enables accountants to provide clients with more precise and timely financial advice. This capability assists clients in making smarter decisions for their businesses. As accountants transition toward strategic and advisory roles, they become proactive advisors, anticipating financial challenges and providing solutions that drive their clients’ businesses forward. 

This shift in the accounting profession highlights the importance of having both financial expertise and tech skills. The adoption of AI-driven tools and software for tasks like data analysis and automation is essential for accountants to fully benefit from these technologies. Accountants who can effectively use the insights generated by AI can provide more informed strategic advice to clients and stakeholders.  

We believe proactive measures, such as investing in education and training programs and fostering a culture of adaptability, can help mitigate the challenges associated with these technological advancements. While professional bodies have introduced new competency models, we have identified key capabilities that will be sought after in the evolving landscape.  

Technical proficiency tops the list, requiring mastery of AI-powered tools and software for tasks such as data analysis, machine learning for predictive analysis and automation. The ability to interpret financial data with critical thinking and analysis is similarly essential, enabling professionals to identify patterns and offer valuable insights and recommendations derived from system-conducted analyses. 

Adaptability and a growth mindset should be emphasised, as the commitment to continuous learning is crucial for staying abreast of the latest advancements in AI and related tools. This continuous learning approach ensures competitiveness within the field and equips accountants to navigate the evolving technological landscape effectively. Additionally, strong communication and collaboration skills should be continuously developed, as professionals must convey insights and findings effectively to stakeholders, clients, and decision-makers. The collaborative skill to work seamlessly in cross-functional teams, to provide a one stop shop service offering to clients and understand evolving business needs is equally emphasised. 

Lastly, accountants should focus on strong client leadership skills to effectively manage and navigate relationships with clients. These skills go beyond technical expertise in accounting and finance; they encompass the interpersonal, effective communication, problem-solving, project management, strategic skills and a commitment to ongoing client education which is necessary to build and sustain positive client relationships. Developing and honing these skills is essential for accounting professionals to excel in their client-facing roles and contribute to the long-term success of both clients and businesses. 

In summary, we acknowledge the integration of AI and automation into the accounting profession is transforming the industry, reshaping the workplace and the capabilities required. The future accountant needs to have a synergy between financial expertise and technological acumen, creating a landscape where accountants leverage AI to offer deeper insights and strategic value to businesses. In this paradigm shift, the intrinsic human touch becomes a source of added value, manifested through the nuanced interpretation of data, the provision of strategic advice, and decision-making rooted in a deep understanding of both clients and financial information. As we embrace these changes, we can position ourselves as valuable contributors to the success and growth of our clients’ businesses in the digital age.  

At Accru Melbourne we welcome the future – it’s looking bright, so if you are keen to join us, have a look at our website for roles.

About the Author
Kate Donaldson , Melbourne
As Director of People and Culture at Accru Melbourne, her role as part of the leadership team is to support and enhance the continued growth of the firm, build a contemporary people strategy and positive employee experience.
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