Technology, ethics and the future of accountancy jobs

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Topic: Technology, ethics and the future of accountancy jobs

Technologies such as artificial intelligence present many exciting opportunities but are also generating increasing concerns. They are raising many new ethical questions about privacy, bias, and lack of transparency, for example. There are also wide-spread concerns about the future of jobs, and how technologies such as AI could make many people redundant. As accountants look increasingly to exploit AI and other advanced technologies, how can we manage these concerns and maximise the benefits? Is the current accounting approach to ethics still fit for purpose? How do we think about accountability for decisions, and the nature of professional judgement, when machines are making the decisions? And how will AI change the jobs of accountants in practice? This seminar and panel discussion will outline some of the key emerging ethical issues, consider the changing roles and skills of accountants, as well as reflect on some of the longer-term challenges for the profession.

Lector: Kirstin Gillon, Technical Manager, IT Faculty

Kirstin Gillon leads ICAEW’s thought leadership programme on technology and the profession. In this role, she analyses how technology trends such as big data, AI and cyber security are influencing businesses and the accountancy profession. She publishes widely on these themes, liaises with the business, academic and policy communities and is a regular speaker at conferences, including the 2018 World Congress of Accountants. Recent publications include Artificial intelligence and the future of accountancy, Big data in Chinese businesses and Fintech innovation: perspectives from Singapore and London. She joined ICAEW from PwC’s IT consultancy practice and previously worked at IBM as a project manager and business analyst.

Date: 9th April 2019

Location: Marriott Hotel Old Town, V Celnici 8, Praha 1

Event structure:

17:30                    Register and welcome drinks

18:00 – 19:30       Seminar

19.30 – 20:15       Panel and discussion

20:15-22.00          Networking drinks

The seminar will include presentations on technology and ethics and future of jobs will include table conversations and Q&A before a panel discussion, followed by networking and refreshments to conclude the event.


Seminar approximate timings and draft content

30 minutes – presentation on technology and ethics, including

  • Set context and outline of some of the current ethical concerns such as privacy, bias, trolley problem
  • Examples of ethical principles for tech being discussed, and some of the practical issues in turning good intentions into reality
  • Outline some of the challenges for the accounting code of ethics and highlight ICAEW initial thinking

15 minutes – table discussions / short break

  • Where are the biggest challenges to the ethics code from new technologies? ?
  • What is the role of accountants in this space? Are there opportunities for new assurance services, or for accountants to lead thinking across businesses on these ethical issues?
  • How much will accounting jobs change in the next 10 years? (link to next section)

10 minutes for some feedback/ general Q&A (probably just open to the room for comments, but ensure the panellists are moderators for each table and can take the lead if needed)

30 minutes – presentation on future of jobs, including

  • Take stock of AI, where we are today and how it might develop in the future (narrow v general AI)
  • Changing roles today in different parts of the profession – e.g. emphasis on data, more advisory work – and what that means for skills
  • Longer term perspective and need to focus on purpose – what do we want to do with all this data etc?

5 minutes – some specific questions on the talk, before opening to the panel.