Economist claims accountant obsolescence

An esteemed Princeton economist has predicted that accountants, lawyers and other highly educated and highly paid workers in the developed world will be made obsolete in the near future by lower cost alternatives in the developing world.

From the best accountants and lawyers to the smartest derivatives traders to teachers and lecturers, many of today’s most prestigious jobs could, thanks to globalization and improved communications technology, just as easily be done more cheaply in places such as India and China.

I’m skeptical, and not just because I’m on his extinction list.

Some occupations are safe, of course. Investment bankers, who have to take out their clients and sweet-talk them are more likely to survive than derivatives traders, who could as easily be elsewhere. Clearly, for example, most of the health profession will still have to remain in situ.

There’s why. If you’re just sitting at a desk crunching numbers, you’re already replaceable. It’s the soft skills like being a good communicator that separates the accountants with job security from the ones who could be half way around the world. How is it that investment bankers are the only ones who are safe due to this reason? Why is the economist ignoring this aspect of professionals’ jobs? What about culture as well? Is being a good advisor really learnable?

4 replies on “Economist claims accountant obsolescence”

  1. There’s why. If you’re just sitting at a desk crunching numbers, you’re already replaceable. It’s the soft skills like being a good communicator that separates the accountants with job security from the ones who could be half way around the world. How is it that investment bankers are the only ones who are safe due to this reason? Why is the economist ignoring this aspect of professionals’ jobs? What about culture as well? Is being a good advisor really learnable? – You

    1 – Those with recent degrees will be shut out of market.
    2 – Bottom line in firm is cut labor costs, especially over paid labor.
    3 – Culture is not important in book keeping and accounting, it’s just numbers like computer code.
    4 – If it can happen in IT with code and design, which is far more complex and requires massive amounts of higher math then accounting is far easier.
    5 – With the cost difference between currencies it would be more valuable for them to simply have you train your replacement with those soft skills, or simply train them in the country of origin with American’s.

    Yep, it is going to happen. I am surprised it has not happened sooner actually.

    Enjoy working at Wallmart. Or if you do survive, enjoy having your kids work at Wallmart for the next 20 years or so before globalization balances out.

    Questions to ask:
    When will globalization bring good paying jobs back? They won’t answer but will promise it will. :)

    Also ask what is globalization? You will receive a lot of info from the salesman how it will be good for you.

    Also ask how many workers are contractors in America now compared to before 2001? A fancy word for temps and they won’t know.

    Ask why 6 out of 10 Americans job hop every year now. Why? What is going on? Can we continue with this? How many are the generation around 2001?

    Ask how many college students with degree’s have decent jobs above a decent wage ratio from 2001?

    Good luck. You are going to need it. And remember, you are just being lazy if they laid you off and don’t deserve anything. Remember that when the execs receive a bonus after they replace you.

    Signed,
    Globalized.

  2. He, like I, studied both economics and accounting.

    The cheap joke would be to call oneself a self-hating CA, or CPA. ;)

    But seriously, I just had a chat about a stupid business policy and the response was, well that’s because accountants are in charge. The policy would’ve completely been overridden by an economist with h/er love of opportunity and sunk costs.

    So in all seriousness, knowing both backgrounds just makes you bitter, or full of witty stories that you’ll share offline. ;)

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