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Maximising the benefits of Artificial Intelligence : An integrated and balanced approach is needed, says ACCA


25 Apr 2018



ACCA ( the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) sees artificial intelligence as an opportunity, but warns that creating trust of citizens and businesses, re-skilling of the workforce, and anticipating possible negative effects are vital ingredients to success.

The fear of new technologies is nothing new. Worries that they could lead to mass unemployment can be traced back to the start of the industrial revolution in the 18th century. But now, some say  the disruption caused by artificial intelligence (AI) could be different and challenge our current societal and legal balances. Instead of just replacing manual and low-skilled jobs, machines are now increasingly capable of replacing intellectual work too. Not escaping the trend, finance, accounting and auditing are listed  as the functions most at risk of being automated.

Having already embarked on the journey, both in devoting a whole section to technology on its website and in modernising its qualification and Continued Professional Development (CPD), ACCA sees artificial intelligence more as an opportunity to improve efficiency for professional services firms than a threat. However, the global accountancy body is fully aware of the challenges ahead.

Welcoming the publication of the European Commission Communication on Maximising the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Maggie McGhee, Director of Professional Insights at ACCA says: “Europe and the world’s future is digital. But to properly reap the benefits of new technologies - and address the emerging challenges of Al - we need to work together, joining forces and resources. The Declaration of cooperation on Artificial Intelligence (AI) signed by 25 European countries is a good first step, and we also welcome the publication of the European Commission’s Communication on AI.”

The new Communication is proposing an integrated approach, aiming at strengthening Europe's competitiveness in AI to provide a stable regulatory framework, legal clarity while also addressing citizens' concerns about the socio-economic impact.

Maggie McGhee says: “We fully share the European Commission’s concerns that new ethical and legal issues must be addressed to create an environment of trust and accountability around the development and use of the technology, with sufficient safeguards to protect citizen and businesses ‘fundamental rights and freedoms.  We look forward to the creation the European Al Alliance and its forthcoming Charter on AI Ethics”.

For ACCA, AI could mean better value for customers, and better accuracy and speed. It would also change the jobs mix in professional services companies, with fewer routine, entry-level functions and more roles focused on creative and strategic thinking and analysis. But for the transition to be successful, technological change must be reflected in the training of finance professionals and accountants, and is also depending on their willingness to embrace it, as illustrated in ACCA’s recent report called  The race for relevance - technology opportunities for the finance function.

Maggie McGhee says: “It is vital to tackle socio-economic challenges in the labour markets, including modernising  Europe's education and training systems. On the one hand, we need to enable - among others-  upskilling services and  life-long learning for impacted workers. At the same time, the acquisition of advanced digital skills, as well as transversal skills and non-digital key competences must be absolute priorities for the education and training of tomorrow’s workforce.

‘We therefore welcome the plan to revise the Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning and look forward to contribute to the forthcoming study to understand better the skills and curricula needs for working with Al and identify professional profiles at risk of being automated away.”

As a global accountancy body, ACCA also shares the European Commission’s view that, given AI’s easily tradable across-borders nature, only global solutions, with international collaboration in international fora like the G20, the UN and the OECD,  will be sustainable.


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About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 200,000 members and 486,000 students in 180 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 101 offices and centres and more than 7,200 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

ACCA is currently introducing major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here:



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