Accountants' training provides foundation for learning new skills

We thank Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi for his contribution to the discussion on the impact of automation on jobs (No job is safe from automation; July 1).

In our commentary (Why robots won't steal accountants' jobs; June 24), what we sought to highlight were the likely roles for which a human element is still required or desirable for the foreseeable future, and which are thus more resilient as jobs.

An important human trait which we highlighted was accountability.

Machines are useful tools, but cannot be ultimately held accountable for any decision, advice or assurance - at least not under current legal frameworks.

Technological advancement has led to the obsolescence of products, services and occupations. However, new products, services and occupations have arisen.

Similarly, in the current era of technological disruption, the challenge and opportunity for professionals is to continue to redefine and broaden their skill sets.

Even in the age of artificial intelligence (AI), human intervention is necessary to help identify new areas to deploy, design or customise AI to perform tasks.

Human intervention is also needed to ensure that the AI system is functioning reliably, as well as to audit and provide assurance on the system.

The training and competencies of an accountant provide a good foundation and ability to acquire these new skills as the boundaries of finance and business are redefined over time.

Lee Fook Chiew

Chief Executive Officer

Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants

Loke Hoe Yeong

Manager, Insights & Intelligence

Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'Accountants' training provides foundation for learning new skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe