Brad Golchin CPA says accounting is going to evolve. His accounting robot is just one part of it.
Auckland-based public practitioner and self-professed “IT geek” Brad Golchin CPA is not worried about robots taking over the world. In fact, he is embracing the prospect.
The former IT and business teacher even counts a robot as one of his staff. “George”, as the robot is affectionately named, is a “telepresence” robot. He was made in the US by robotics company Double Robotics, and cost around US$2499. George provides Golchin’s firm, Wise Advice, with flexibility and mobility, not to mention a quirky and memorable client experience.
“We have offices in Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney, so if I am in Australia and I have a meeting with a client in New Zealand, I can connect with George, who I can control remotely. He will then ‘walk’ around the office, greet my clients and have a chat. I can do presentations, using the robot as my communications vehicle.”
Golchin says the robot is a great conversation starter, and although it does help around the office with simple tasks, he admits that it is more of a marketing gimmick. “It’s the first thing that the clients see. They love it, they want to know more about it, they want to talk to it, interact with it, and see how it works.”
“My personal branding is ‘I am a geek’ and I am proud of that. So the people who like our firm like the technology that we are using. They want to be more efficient and more streamlined, using the latest technology to achieve that. Lots of start-ups like us because they understand the geekiness,” he says.
“Some clients aren’t ready to embrace technology and that’s fine – they may not be the perfect clients for us. Practices need to realise that you can’t attract every single client in the market. It’s a huge market out there and you need to find your own niche clients that like you, your brand, and what you are doing.”
Adding value for accounting clients
At the heart of everything Golchin does is adding value for the client.
“At the end of the day, if I can’t help them, it is not good for me to take them on board. I have to see whether I can help that client in a broader sense, rather than just filing their tax returns, because that may not be a service we will provide in five or 10 years’ time,” he explains.
“It’s a fast-changing environment, and if the compliance work is going to go away in 2020, then a lot is going to change in the next few years, and we have to be careful that we are agile enough and adapt to all these changes.
“If you look at the Australian Taxation Office or Inland Revenue [New Zealand’s taxation office], everything is getting connected, all the information is coming from the banks to the ledger, and everything is going to be more visible in the near future. Doing your tax, GST or BAS, it’s not going to be as difficult as it is now. Soon it’s just going to be as simple as pushing a button.”
Golchin credits his IT background with his fortitude in the technology space, and plans to use his technological expertise to help other practices embrace technology and evolve their offering as the profession evolves.
“Accountants don’t necessarily have that gene, or haven’t trained their brain in that way – to think about technology and how you can adapt it. I can help accountants with that, so that they can do what they do best – which is advising clients on how to grow their business,” says Golchin.
The coming years will prove an interesting ride for accountants, and Golchin is excited by the opportunities.
“Is accounting as we know it going to become robots and machines? Yes, I think so, but I think that accounting is going to change to supporting the client and helping them with their business strategy, rather than just filing tax returns and telling them how much to pay. Accounting is going to evolve rather than disappear.”