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Man vs Machine: Will computers take over accountancy?

The digital revolution is driving productivity, accelerating innovation and permanently transforming employment. Look around you and you will notice how technologies are affecting skills, wages and the economy.

Concerns are growing over job security and judging by the enquiries received by our Library & Information Service, the question of where the profession is heading resonates strongly with ICAEW members.

The ICAEW Library holds a book infamous for its popularity. It’s in such heavy demand that it has barely had a chance to make itself at home on our shelves. The title of this book is The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts. It forecasts nothing short of the disappearance of the professions as we recognise them in the face of technological upheaval. And yes – accountants are among those caught in the tide of change.

Tomorrow's Practice

Find out more about how Tomorrow’s Practice is making change work for chartered accountants and their clients.


It’s a matter important to ICAEW and one it has explored in its Tomorrow’s Practice project. This investigation revealed that, alongside accelerated technological change, regulatory and economic factors are transforming accountancy.

The challenge practitioners face is adapting to this state of flux. Luckily the Library & Information Service offers books and articles which support members in uncertain times. One example is Remaining Relevant: the Future of the Accounting Profession. The author acknowledges technology disrupts traditional practice but argues the opportunities it presents can’t be ignored. Accountants are now empowered to act as ‘real-time’ advisors to clients and to tap into the benefits of a globalised workforce.

Technology can simplify completing tax procedures and carrying out audits, as well as creating online communities of lay experts. However, as the Tomorrow’s Practice research shows, accountants can still bring the human touch and become trusted advisors to their clients. The Go-To Expert explains how professionals can develop niche specialisms to have the edge on the competition. It’s a great way of enhancing your reputation. There’s even a related digest specifically for accountants called, unsurprisingly, The Go-To Accountant.

The Library’s collection is constantly expanding. Through our books and articles you can distinguish Big Data from the Internet of Things and keep up-to-date with changing regulation in issues as diverse as audit thresholds and integrated reporting.

Staying on top of the changing professional landscape is a way of ensuring the future is less intimidating. Want to know more? The Library & Information Service is here to help.

Expert help for your enquiries and research

Our enquiry team can help answer questions on a wide range of topics – simply contact us and we will respond within 24 hours.

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