The future is now, as the saying goes. Emerging technologies have already altered the way work is done in every industry. In the finance and accounting sector, companies are leveraging advancements like robotic process automation (RPA) to increase efficiencies and streamline business processes. But what is RPA, exactly? And how will robotics in accounting impact your job?

Here’s what you need to know, as well as several ways you can gain a competitive career advantage as technology continues to revolutionize the finance industry.

What is RPA?

As described in Robert Half’s Jobs and AI Anxiety report, RPA is a way for businesses to automate tedious or repetitive processes to save time and money and increase employee productivity. Automation can help speed up tasks that require number-crunching or the use of algorithms, such as calculating depreciation, for example.

There are many other operations related to accounting and auditing that RPA can take care of, including data entry, expense management and records reconciliation. Additionally, the use of tools like Kofax, UiPath and Blue Prism allows more complex functions — such as aspects of financial reporting and even compliance — to be automated.

Additionally, robotics in accounting has the ability to revolutionize the realm of auditing and regulatory compliance. With the automation of compliance-based tasks, companies can reduce the risk of human error and avoid critical breaches.

A robotics in accounting boost

Data from a Robert Half survey shows 79% of managers in the United States employ automation right now or expect to do so within the next several years. When asked about robots and their jobs, some workers (12%) said they worry about a negative impact from artificial intelligence and automation.

The good news for accounting professionals is that robotics will ultimately be job enhancing. RPA reduces the need for humans to complete mundane tasks, freeing up employees for more skill-based, strategic projects. As a result, finance and accounting workers will see exciting new career opportunities.


Getting ready for accounting automation

There are a number of steps finance professionals can take to make automation work to their advantage:

  • Be flexible. Companies will prize adaptable employees who see the possibilities of new technology and are excited about what the future holds. Find ways to help make the transition to robotics in accounting in your workplace smooth, such as requesting training sessions and suggesting implementation plans or ways to improve processes disrupted by automation. This can help you stand out from the crowd in the view of your employer.
  • Proactively approach new technology. Another way to stay ahead of the curve is by learning as much as you can about relevant technologies and related skills through reputable publications, blogs, podcasts and case studies. Becoming an expert on blockchain, data analytics or new trends in how RPA is being used in audits can make your current employer or a new one see you as having a digital mindset — a plus in virtually any financial job today.
  • Get certified. Take learning to the next step by completing one of the many RPA certification programs that give accounting professionals the ins and outs of this technology and how it’s revolutionizing the financial sector. These designations show employers you’re serious about taking advantage of everything RPA has to offer.
  • Highlight your results. As your firm adopts RPA, keep track of how you benefit from it in your day-to-day operations and share your results with management. Have you saved time or cut down on errors? Report it. Showcasing your success in implementing new technology lets your employer know you’re open to change and you’re ready to take on new duties and responsibilities.
  • Enhance your soft skills. Don’t forget to also hone your non-technical abilities. Fifty-one percent of managers polled for our Jobs and Anxiety report said they expect new technologies to increase the demand for soft skills. Abilities they mentioned included strategic thinking, leadership, communication, collaboration and intellectual curiosity. These traits will become even more important as technology frees up humans to work together more often and as virtual workforces become increasingly commonplace.
  • Seek growth opportunities. Once you’re familiar with a new implementation of robotics in accounting in your office, offer to contribute to training sessions for the rest of the team. You could see your efforts rewarded with a promotion or even a new role created in response to technological advancements.

Will new technologies like RPA shake up your accounting job? Absolutely. Embrace the change rather than watch it leave you behind.