We spoke with Viktor Stensson, CEO and co-founder of AI-powered bookkeeping and accounting software Bokio. Prior to Bokio, Viktor worked as a management consultant and studied at the University of Gothenburg, where he obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Finance.
In 2015 Viktor Stensson, Mikael Eliasson, Emma Rozada and Joel Rozada founded Bokio after becoming frustrated at the over-complicated nature of the tax filing system. Since then, Bokio has expanded both its service and user base. It now has 80 employees and serves over 120,000 users, located in both the UK and its native country Sweden. Last year, Bokio raised €7.4 million in funding from existing investors and merged with Stockholm-based competitor Red Flag.
Why is AI needed in the accounting world?
“As an industry, accounting is one of the fundamental pillars upon which society rests, and while our reliance on it is unquestionable, it has long been falling behind as a sector. While others have been rapidly innovating, strict policies and compliance have made the adoption of advanced machine learning technology much more challenging for the accounting sector.
Despite this, an AI revolution is underway and it is becoming increasingly apparent that in order to remain competitive and to secure new business opportunities, accounting firms must harness and utilise AI. For too long, accounting processes have been slow and admin heavy, with clunky legacy and on-premises software being relied upon, despite its inefficiency and costly upkeep. In order to eliminate these ingrained processes, accountants and their firms must now bite the bullet.”
How will AI change the role of physical accountants?
“While we can certainly expect AI to take over the number crunching, administration and record-keeping duties, it is important to consider the integral partnership that is already forming between digital and physical accounting.
With AI taking over many of the time-consuming duties, accountants will be free to invest more time building strong relationships with their clients. Ultimately, the success of accounting as a trade, has long been built upon the belief that financial professionals have the expertise to guide and advise others. While AI can provide and do much of the leg work, trust and communication is still very much a human sale.
Another consideration is that as customers and clients become more aware of the capabilities and value for money that AI technology provides, the expectation that it be used by their providers will no doubt follow. This in turn means that the role of accountants as intermediaries will become extremely important, reassuring their clients that the technology being used is reliable, high-end and most importantly, being monitored.
Why should accounting firms use AI?
“The simple answer is because it’s a profitable long-term investment. During the pandemic, we witnessed the world’s largest-ever workforce migration. Meanwhile, businesses of all shapes and sizes were forced to react to overnight changes, many of whom could not easily provide their staff with the necessary access to systems or paperwork required for them to properly do their jobs. One of the many arguments for accounting firms to use software like Bokio, which is underpinned by AI, is that it provides reassuring stability in an unpredictable world. This stability is something that builds the confidence of staff, clients and investors.
While some may consider AI another technological fad, it is worth reiterating that its programmable capabilities are unlimited. As the name suggests, machine learning is specifically designed to identify and develop an intrinsic understanding of the data and processes that make up the service it provides. This means that, when it comes to the future needs of accounting firms, AI could be an invaluable oracle.”