There is no denying that finance is an ever changing industry and accountants need to adapt to keep up.
It seems that the days of punching numbers into calculators and scribbling down sums are a far-distant memory.
The boom in technology across numerous industries has meant opportunities for advancement in how professionals do business. Accounting is no exception. Many of the once tedious tasks performed by accountants are now performed by artificial intelligence (AI), allowing professionals to focus on more advisory roles that brings greater value to clients.
On local soil, IT Accountant group, Osidon, has recently introduced the world’s first online digital accountant, aimed at lending a helping hand to SMME’s and entrepreneurs, paving the way for job creation and increased compliance. Osidon Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Hennie Ferreira, says they have identified a critical gap in the market.
‘This initiative is the first of its kind in the world, created and developed on South African soil. Traditional accounting services have failed to do the job at hand. That is why we have created a new era in the accounting industry, by pushing the boundaries and rethinking traditional methods.’
Ferreira says the system has both technological and human features, providing a full circle service to clients.
‘We have used the latest AI and Cloud technologies to build a digital accountant. Accounting functions are therefore executed by an Intelligent System while clients are also assigned a human accountant to assist with other areas such as consulting, advising and continuous support around other areas including compliance.’
But what is AI? Artificial intelligence extends a computer’s normal input and output programming. It allows computers to make predictions and adapt how they respond in certain situations — just like humans. In professions that require routine tasks such as accounting and law, AI is replacing human eyes for the better.
The Osidon system not only allows the company to provide more comprehensive services to its clients but it is also geared towards lending a helping hand to SMME’s. This sector is the driving force behind the economy and much needed job creation.
However, they are continuously plagued by challenges, hindering their success. More than 600 000 new companies are registered every year, but it is estimated that 30% new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10 years. Compliance is linked to many of these failures.
‘Business owners tend to think you can deal with compliance, which includes accounting, tax and payroll, at a later stage. Your compliance needs to be 100% correct from day one. Currently many companies, built on fantastic business concepts, are in the process of being liquidated because debts piled up over the years due to mere ignorance. We ensure that our clients are compliant on all levels because we firmly believe entrepreneurs should focus on running their business and not be plagued by compliance and red-tape,’ Ferreira says.
There is no shortage of angst when it comes to the impact of AI on jobs. For example, a recent global survey found that people are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) than enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans. Ferreira says AI will replace tasks, not jobs.
‘When SMME’s are able to focus on developing their business they can actively contribute to the growing economy. As they grow bigger they will also need a larger workforce. On the other hand, if we remove the headaches around red tape and compliance, accountants will have more time on their hands to take on new clients and work,’ Ferreira explains.
Osidon also focusses on company registrations, a process that leaves many new business owners in the dark. Registering a company is the first step to formalising an enterprise.
‘A lack of knowledge about the correct process to follow when registering a company is where many new entrepreneurs stumble. This is such a crucial sector for growing our economy that we have set up a system to provide SMMEs with a complete start-up box for their new business with company registrations central to this process. We guide entrepreneurs from the start to ensure the building blocks of their new companies are built on a strong foundation.’
Other services include HR and payroll, website creation and formalising a business plan to present to potential funders. Osidon has also collaborated with industry leaders to further strengthen the position of SMME’s.
‘We have taken hands with Sasfin Bank to provide our clients with a business bank account, a critical platform to do transactions. Through our partnership with The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) we can also offer labour related consultation and information.’
Osidon is the fastest growing SMME accounting firm in South Africa and will also launch into the UK and USA markets early in 2020. Visit: www.osidon.com
More about Osidon’s Co-Founders:
To become an entrepreneur in the current South African economic landscape takes more than just a mere business idea. It takes grit, fluidity, innovation and unwavering commitment to achieve the type of large-scale personal and professional success that intersects and positively impacts the lives of those who work for you, with you or are affected by the services you provide.These attributes accurately describe Hennie Ferreira, the visionary leader of Osidon.
Hennie crafted his entrepreneurial spirit from an early age; at 15 years, while still in school, he started his first business; servicing electric garage doors for extra pocket money. Since matriculating in 2004 he has always been involved in business and in January 2017, he started Osidon with his wife, Melissa. They were motivated to start the company following unsatisfactory support and service from their own accountants, which contributed to their former company’s closure.
Even though he wears many hats, Hennie is an entrepreneur at heart and nothing gives him more joy than assisting fellow entrepreneurs and seeing them succeed in their ventures.
Melissa describes herself as a very dedicated person, having excelled academically from an early age. She started out studying Occupational Therapy at the University of Stellenbosch, but soon gave in to her first passion, the law.
As an LLB student at the University of Pretoria, Melissa received many accolades which included featuring on the Dean’s Merit List from 2012 to 2015. Her talents are not wasted and she forms an integral part of Osidon as its Chief Operating Officer. She has also not forgotten her love for education and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree through the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.