ISCA’s Whitepaper reveals that accountancy and finance professionals can augment 60% to 100% of critical work functions

SINGAPORE - Media OutReach Newswire - 29 May 2024 - Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be a game-changer for the accountancy industry. The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) adopts a human-centred AI (HCAI) perspective and recognises that AI can bring forth positive disruption. A HCAI approach takes into consideration the design, use, and intention of the AI tool for the human user. Essentially, this means viewing AI as an instrument to augment and complement the work of accountancy and finance professionals, instead of replacing them.

ISCA started the AI for Accountancy Industry (AI for AI) initiative in May 2023. One year on, ISCA published a whitepaper titled "Artificial Intelligence for the Accountancy Industry – What Lies Ahead". The whitepaper shares key findings to understand the sentiments on, readiness for, and problem statements about AI for the accountancy industry, as well as the potential of AI augmentation for accountancy careers.

The whitepaper reported that among employers, 72% agree that AI will be a game changer for their business. Employees are equally buoyant about AI, with 82% expecting Generative AI to enhance their job performance. Despite these positive sentiments and willingness to take on new AI innovations, an AI readiness survey suggests that the accountancy industry still lacked key resources, in areas like infrastructure and data readiness.

The whitepaper also assessed the potential of AI augmentation on critical work functions in accountancy career tracks. It deep-dived into three career tracks – Assurance, Financial Accounting and Management Accounting. We found that accountancy and finance professionals can augment 60% to 100% of critical work functions with AI in these three career tracks.

Offering insights into the report findings, ISCA President Mr Teo Ser Luck said, "There are strong indications of AI's transformative impact on the accountancy industry. With AI, organisations can achieve more with less and reap productivity benefits. The notion of 'super-accountants' leveraging AI to cover more areas in multiple fields with fewer resources is also exciting. For instance, we may see entrepreneurial 'super-accountants' run leaner audit firms with more efficient employees, and still capable of providing a full suite of services through automation and AI augmentation."

Commenting on the implications of AI on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Song Yeow Chung, ISCA Council Member and Co-Chair of the ISCA AI Taskforce said, "The proliferation of AI would mean that SMEs can benefit from a more agile and efficient accounting and finance function for more informed decision-making. Besides improving efficiency and work-life balance, AI augmentation will enable the accounting and finance function in SMEs to better focus on and provide insights into new business opportunities and risks."

Importantly, this does not necessarily result in job losses. Instead, the accountancy profession will likely continue to see more opportunities for professional development in terms of upskilling and reskilling. There would also be positive transformative changes through revamped work processes and productivity gains as AI proliferates.

For example, with financial analyses and forecasts more easily performed with AI augmentation, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO)'s role may no longer be concentrated on financial numbers alone. The role will change with CFOs increasingly focused on more strategic job functions, such as leading in business development, risk management, ESG and sustainability, and governance. Among other attributes, a sharp business acumen, the ability to think critically and creatively, and digital savviness would be the defining features of the future CFO.

Cyndi Pei, ISCA Council Member and Co-Chair of the ISCA AI Taskforce said, "CFOs have much to gain from AI augmentation. For example, they can use AI to find patterns from data analysis to identify business insights and propose action plans. AI will also enable CFOs to be stronger business partners with timely forecasts and market analysis which will contribute to sharper execution and help to shape business strategies. As a CFO, I look forward to integrating more AI tools into my work to bring more value to the business while elevating the work of the finance team."

ISCA's AI for AI initiative will focus on five areas – jobs and skills, AI ethics, AI governance, AI adoption, and sustainability. Among other initiatives that ISCA has embarked on, to foster AI adoption, ISCA conducted an AI experiential day earlier this month for small and medium-sized practices to learn about AI-powered accounting solutions. Also, in November, ISCA will launch a policy recommendation paper to advocate the development of a human-centred AI ecosystem. ISCA is also developing a framework for responsible use of AI in the accountancy industry, which will address ethical concerns.

The whitepaper can be downloaded at this link.

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Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) is the national accountancy body of Singapore with over 36,000 ISCA members making their stride in businesses across industries in Singapore and around the world. ISCA members can be found in over 40 countries and members based out of Singapore are supported through 12 overseas chapters in 10 countries.

Established in 1963, ISCA is an advocate of the interests of the profession. Complementing its global mindset with Asian insights, ISCA leverages its regional expertise, knowledge, and networks with diverse stakeholders to contribute towards the advancement of the accountancy profession.

ISCA administers the Singapore Chartered Accountant Qualification programme and is the Designated Entity to confer the Chartered Accountant of Singapore – CA (Singapore) – designation.

ISCA is a member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, a global family that brings together the members of leading institutes to create a community of over 1.8 million Chartered Accountants and students in more than 190 countries.

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Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants




29 May 2024



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