IN the ever-advancing digital world, it is not uncommon for people to assume that their jobs may be replaced by future technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
This is no different for would-be accountants, as many believe that the profession will soon become obsolete thanks to advancements in technology and computing software.
However, Sunway TES Centre for Accountancy Excellence executive director Prof Teo Ee Sing said that this is “far from the truth” as the demand for professional accountants has never been higher, despite recent technological developments.
“The belief that accountants will be replaced by AI is a misconception. This is not the case, it is not like that at all.
“Overseas firms still take in so many professional accounting graduates, especially those who have been trained by the big firms. They are in really high demand,” he said.
Prof Teo added that accountants who achieve professional certification are also able to easily move abroad to work, with plenty of opportunities available for skilled professionals in the industry.
He said that Sunway TES has graduates working worldwide, with accountants being in demand “all over the world”, even in affluent places such as Dubai and London, and in countries like Singapore, Spain and China.
Prof Teo who set up Sunway TES 28 years ago shared that accounting work will become much more streamlined as well, with AI playing a major role in assisting accountants with their day-to-day tasks.
“The common stereotypes are always that accounting is boring, repetitive, and there is no work-life balance.
“But modern accountants don’t have to go through that anymore. AI will assist accountants in numerous ways from processing data quickly and accurately, to improving the quality of data analysis,” he said.
He also said that the role of accountants is still very much needed, as they will be more involved in looking at the “bigger picture” by providing financial advice and calculating the financial position of their clients, as well as placing more focus on aspects such as analytics.
“If you were to go to an accounting firm in the past, you’d be able to see stacks upon stacks of files and documents. But that is no longer the case now with cloud computing systems and AI,” he said.
Prof Teo further mentioned that the preparation to become a modern accountant can be completed at Sunway TES in Sunway College, mainly due to the fact that the institution remains in close contact with firms such as PwC, EY, KPMG, BDO and Deloitte.
This is to ensure that Sunway TES graduates are fully equipped to enter the professional world of accounting.
“We have constant engagement with the firms in terms of whether our graduates meet their requirements, if they are short in any skill sets or if there is any ability they need to enhance,” he said.
“Our students are well-equipped for the digital age and they can start their career immediately when they join a firm. The firm doesn’t have to spend a lot of time training them to be work ready.”
Prof Teo shared that this is also because Sunway TES utilises a number of real-life scenarios in its educational programmes, such as audit simulation, which requires students to undertake a week-long audit task that will be graded by industry professionals.
He said that Sunway also places more emphasis on developing integral soft skills for its students such as problem-solving, time management, communication and business acumen in addition to training them on the latest business practices.
Prof Teo also said that he hopes more school-leavers will consider taking up accounting, as the number of students enrolling in accounting courses has declined in recent years, partly due to the misconception about the profession and AI.
Sunway TES offers a number of accountancy programmes and courses such as the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA), ACCA Foundation in Accountancy (ACCA FIA), Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (CFAB) and The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
To nurture the next generation of professional accountants, Sunway TES will be hosting a Global Audit Simulation from December 12 to 19 in collaboration with ACCA Malaysia.
Supported by leading international professional services firms (Big 5), the simulation provides an exclusive opportunity for their students and participants around the world to translate academic learnings into practical experience.
Through the simulated external audit, participants will be well-equipped with fundamental skills, gain insights into industry demands, be exposed to audit methodology and have their presentations reviewed by one of the Big 5 firms.
For more information on Sunway TES Centre for Accountancy Excellence, visit https://my.sunway.edu.my/sunctes/