For the past decades, “Robo-accountants” have been the talk among accountants across various firms. The fear of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation replacing administrative jobs still loom large.
However, it’s really important to not forget that certain things such as empathy, nuance, and human touch, which are valued by the clients cannot be provided by automation. Technology can help augment an accountant’s workload and help him/her do more with less.
It’s important to talk about the future of administrative roles, as we see an uptick in automation. Developing strategies can help these valued members of our teams to upgrade their roles in the firm.
Conventional Admin Roles
Since the 2008 recession, the demand for conventional admin roles has decreased. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, although the economy added more than 10 million jobs once the company began recovering from the recession, women (who fill about three-quarters of all administrative support positions) lost a total of 1.6 million admin support jobs.
While automation might not be able to fully take over the jobs of the human workers, but over time, automation will be able to perform more and more tasks that are a part of an administrative professional’s job.
Here is a list of tasks that have been partially or fully automated:
- Organizing and maintaining client files
- Maintaining project tracking spreadsheets
- Scheduling appointments for partners and other professionals
- Mailing invoices and tax organizers
- Preparing engagement letters and other client correspondence
- Sending quarterly estimate reminders
- Checking on e-file acceptance status
- Processing and assembling tax returns and financial statements
Client Facing New Admin Role
Automating routine tasks cannot make the admin role unnecessary. Instead of letting automation happen to them, we can train them to take on more of a paraprofessional role.
As the team transitions into a client-facing paraprofessional role, they can be entrusted with the following duties and responsibilities with proper training:
- Collaborating with engagement team members to create and automate audited financial statements, documents, analyses, and audit reports
- Spearhead and update workflow processes, including identifying processes that can be automated
- Effectively interfacing with clients, personnel, and service providers.
- Client onboarding
In the past, admin professionals had little to no client contact. But as firms’ hierarchical structure is changing, admins will need to be comfortable with client interaction. This can prevent their roles from becoming obsolete, and they will be able to add more value to both the firm and the clients.