Automated accounting in accounting firms : A qualitative study on impacts and attitudes
Sammanfattning: The technology development within the accounting field has grown tremendously during the last years and generated great impacts to the accounting firms and led to an enormous change in how accounting consultants conducting their daily tasks. The continuous development has now entered a new phase, where automation of accounting processes is now perceived as the current major trend and it will affect the profession even more. Automated accounting may bring both positive and negative impacts to the accounting firms and their consultants, but many threats may also come to light where questions have arisen about the need of accounting consultants if the procedures are automatic. Studies on automation in various fields have been conducted over the years, but the impacts of automated accounting on accounting firm and their accounting consultants have been neglected in previous research. Moreover, since the consultants are affected as well, their attitude toward such changes and corresponding impacts are of interest to understand their stance to these changes. Thereof, the interest in how accounting firms and their consultant will be affected resulted in these two research questions: 1) What are the potential impacts of automated accounting for accounting firms and their accounting consultants? 2) What are the accounting consultants’ attitudes towards automated accounting? The purpose of this thesis is to extend the current knowledge of the potential effects and explain the phenomena of automation in the context of accounting firms and their consultants. The aim is also to extend the knowledge of the accounting consultants’ attitude towards automated accounting and what they perceive as threats and opportunities. This thesis answers the research question by a qualitative method where empirical data has been collected from interviews with accounting consultants from different accounting firms in Umeå. The findings from the empirical data shows that automated accounting may lead to a decreased need of accounting consultants if the accounting firms do not extend or diversify their services. Moreover, advisory and analytical services will dominate the industry because automation will lead to more financial misstatements, which drives the need of analytical services. To comply with these changes, the future accounting consultant needs to possess more technical knowledge. The accounting consultant assistant will most probably be replaced by IT-consultants and in the long term, all consultants will be salespersons rather than accounting consultant. Regarding the attitude, the majority of the accounting consultants are positive towards automated accounting and their impacts, even though some tend to show a negative attitude to certain impacts.
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