using ChatGPT in your accounting practice

whats the most impressive thing you've used ChatGPT for in your accounting practice so far?

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We've recently started using ChatGPT 4 in our practice with some impressive results so far and still feel like we are only scratching the surface.

What's the most impressive thing you've used CGPT for in your accounting practice so far?

How are you using it to save you and your team time?

Anyone using it to assist with the training of new entrants to the industry?

Replies (35)

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By FactChecker
30th Apr 2024 22:26

"We've recently started using ChatGPT 4 in our practice with some impressive results so far and still feel like we are only scratching the surface"

Well tell us more, get the ball rolling ... what kind of 'impressive results', in what areas and measured by what metrics (speed, cost, accuracy, or ...)?

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By Cylhia66
01st May 2024 04:31

Following out of interest and curiosity.

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Replying to Cylhia66:
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By Leywood
01st May 2024 07:03

+1
Minus the words ‘interest and’

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Replying to Leywood:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
01st May 2024 14:58

+2

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Replying to Cylhia66:
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By HL86
01st May 2024 07:18

Same!

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VAT
By Jason Croke
01st May 2024 07:36

It would be useful for some sort of example for the OP (seeing as its their topic!)

Sure, we use AI for writing the more generic and bland articles for our website that our SEO people seem to like, and we also write our own opinion pieces as you can't beat something written by a human with passion. We also use it for analysing Excel spreadsheets for the few clients who still send them to us for their accounts.

I've started to play with the AI functionality within Adobe but its a bit pants and I think the word "AI" is now becoming a buzz word for anything involving a computer and that's not what AI is truly about.

Most of the time we're using the well known apps/integrations like Dext to analyse receipts, match to bank, etc. I don't consider these apps as "AI" as they are not scouring the internet to arrive at their answers.

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VAT
By Jason Croke
01st May 2024 07:47

Taken from the ChatGPT website, an indication of how clever it is :-

Input
Andrew is free from 11 am to 3 pm, Joanne is free from noon to 2 pm and then 3:30 pm to 5 pm. Hannah is available at noon for half an hour, and then 4 pm to 6 pm. What are some options for start times for a 30 minute meeting for Andrew, Hannah, and Joanne?

Output
Andrew: 11 am - 3 pm
Joanne: 12 pm - 2 pm, 3:30 pm - 5 pm
Hannah: 12 pm - 12:30 pm, 4 pm - 6 pm
Common availability for a 30-minute meeting: 12 pm - 12:30 pm

Do you know what I do? I use Teams or Outlook shared Calendars and I can instantly see who is free. It would take me as long to type in the "input" into ChatGPT.....we are exploring the use of Power Automate which is an add-in for Teams and is fine for basic appointment type queries but is there a time saving for us, not sure yet.

I think there remains risks in larger firms (40+ staff) if staff become reliant upon ChatGPT over say researching answers in Croner-i or Tolleys/Lexis because we'll lose the art of research* and when people work from home it is important that people talk to each other and share knowledge and experience, else we become cellular and just ask the AI for technical answers and that is when as a practice you start to lose control of knowledge and learning and the risk of PI claims increases.

*I'm sure most staff in any practice are using Google to get answers for some of their queries instead of asking others or using the technical subscriptions or flicking through a big tax book, and I think that is a current risk that practices need to be aware of, how do we retain knowledge learned in a world where most people Google the answer and instantly forget it straight afterwards before moving onto next client, next query.

I'm not against AI, infact I'm a huge fan, but I think there is a lot of noise about something which is not that revolutionary.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
By SteveHa
01st May 2024 11:43

Jason Croke wrote:

*I'm sure most staff in any practice are using Google to get answers for some of their queries instead of asking others or using the technical subscriptions or flicking through a big tax book, and I think that is a current risk that practices need to be aware of, how do we retain knowledge learned in a world where most people Google the answer and instantly forget it straight afterwards before moving onto next client, next query.

I often start with a general Google search when I asked about something where I don't know where the answer is, but the results of said search are generally only there to point me to the relevant legislation and/or technical guidance.

From what I've seen of ChatGPT up to now (and I say this as a died in the wool technophile) I wouldn't trust it to point me to the bathroom.

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Replying to SteveHa:
Tornado
By Tornado
03rd May 2024 11:06

"I wouldn't trust it to point me to the bathroom."

Even I can do that. Down the corridor and third on the left.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
By Charlie Carne
02nd May 2024 09:57

Jason Croke wrote:

Taken from the ChatGPT website, an indication of how clever it is :-

Do you know what I do? I use Teams or Outlook shared Calendars and I can instantly see who is free. It would take me as long to type in the "input" into ChatGPT.....we are exploring the use of Power Automate which is an add-in for Teams and is fine for basic appointment type queries but is there a time saving for us, not sure yet.

Isn't that a bit like a complaining at the launch of calculators in the 1970s that an advert showing a simple calculation meant that the tech was valueless because you can add 2 plus 3 on your fingers. This is a just a simple to understand example of what ChatGPT can do, but it's capable of much more complex tasks that are harder to get across to a non-tech audience in a short paragraph on a web site.

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Tornado
By Tornado
01st May 2024 12:43

"and when people work from home it is important that people talk to each other and share knowledge and experience, else we become cellular and just ask the AI for technical answers"

People could chat to ChatGPT.

"It is a lovely day today, shall we go for a walk later, I can bring you along in the laptop or the phone if you prefer something a bit more snug"

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Replying to Tornado:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
01st May 2024 15:02

"All the doors have a cheerful disposition"
"I have a pain in my diodes on my left side"
"Brain the size of a planet and you ask me to [insert as needed]"

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By mm838
01st May 2024 14:01

Following out of interest, although here's my thoughts..

Chat GPT and AI in general has the potential to really advance our work through better quality and efficiencies. Although I think a lot of practices are not in a position to exploit its benefits because of their IT infrastructure.

The majority of Accountancy practices (I Know) have data silos, a different practice management software to different accounts production software and a different invoicing software. Which data all sitting in different places.

Those more advanced practices that managed to integrate these usually do so through a third party software provider that does this for them. (In which case there is rarely an ability to connect AI to this database).

Real potential can only be used when everything is ran off the one system. Practice Management, Document Management, Communications Management and Accounts Production. To me accountants need to migrate to a full ERP platform like D365 to reap the benefits of AI. Platforms that allow use to leverage meta data.

AI is here, there is no "waiting on it to advance further", we need to advance our environments to use it to its full capacity.

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Replying to mm838:
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By Bobbo
01st May 2024 14:55

Like OP, you don't appear to have said anywhere what Chat GPT or AI could actuall do.

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Replying to Bobbo:
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By mm838
01st May 2024 15:23

I don't think this is the right question to be asking. AI doesn't really "Do" anything, its a platform or a tool that enables you to "Do" other things.

What does the Internet "Do"? Not much, but it enables you to do things like communication, information exchange, collaboration etc.

AI can enable you to do things like
- Automated data entry
- Predictive Analytics
- Client Service Automation

I hope this make sense, I understand its probably still a bit vague so ill try give practical examples for each.

Automated data entry

- AI drafting Letters to go to clients, detailing the work completed, the outstanding corporation tax liability and how to pay this liability along with the fee for the works completed and how to pay this.

- Generate notes from zoom meetings to include in client file

Predictive Analytics

- Forecasting accurately when work loads are expected to be light and when you are going to have to exceed work capacity to meet deadlines.

Client Service Automation

- Emails to remind clients deadline is in xx days and we need to receive information by xx to ensure the work is completed on time.

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Replying to mm838:
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By FactChecker
01st May 2024 15:54

But none of those 'practical examples' actually require the use of AI.

* I wrote programmes in the '80s and '90s (resource & load scheduling) that coped with your 2nd example - and even MS Project would give you more than you probably need.
* Setting-up conditional database Triggers would get you most of your 3rd example, without the need for any AI to generate/issue the emails.
* My son used voice-recognition software (during lectures in the first years of this century) that generated text files.

Basically, your version of AI isn't really AI ... just the latest round of technology that undoubtedly speeds up output and/or reduces user effort. What's different this time round is that people are being sold the idea that it replaces the need for skills.
Wrong of course, but I'm not sure which is the worse outcome - that people waste money on achieving a very small benefit (which still requires overview/review by the skilled), or that enough people believe the lie (and stop gaining the skills).

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By mm838
01st May 2024 16:18

I understand the points you're making. Feel as though the more data / meta data we can have available to these systems, the more we benefit from the them. what are your thoughts on Tax GPT models like this.

https://www.taxworld.ie/

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Replying to mm838:
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By FactChecker
01st May 2024 16:38

"what are your thoughts on Tax GPT models like this"

Well in no particular order ...
- it only covers Irish Tax (so no interest for me);
- looks like it's an adjunct to Learning, not Practice (so again not for me);
- it's extraordinarily expensive for what it is;
- if a silly name for the 'agent' was wanted why not pick something pronounceable?

Basically, I can't see it's relevance to your previous posts ... unless of course you're proving that AI can generate sentences (but without human intelligence)?

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Replying to mm838:
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By FactChecker
01st May 2024 16:01

"Real potential can only be used when everything is ran off the one system" is, in the context given, complete horlicks.

Databases can be easily linked (as in 'tables joined via common keys' if you prefer the jargon) which *would* then create a virtual LLM suitable for AI routines of the type you envisage.
'Best of breed' vs 'single system' is an argument as old as the hills - with no single 'always correct' answer - but even proponents of the latter approach will admit to there being an element of Lowest Common Denominator in any such system.

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By blackdust567
01st May 2024 18:12

Hi everyone, thanks for the messages, interesting thoughts coming up.

To shed some light on how I've been using it recently (I must say we are quite new to it so still exploring it) I've put some examples of what I've done
(p.s I understand the paid for version of CGPT v 4 is more superior than the free version; I have been using v 4)

- when doing management accounts, I copied and pasted the accounts into CGPT and asked it to provide a summary; that was useful for putting into an email to client (saved me time and it was accurate) and also for highlighting the key areas and variances.
- I then went on from the above and asked it to produce me a variety of graphs and charts; not something we've really done before for clients but it was a different way to present the data which clients liked the look of (again, found to be accurate)
- I prepared a complicated IHT calculation spreadsheet for a client; I was then going to have to write a mini report on the findings in the sheet; usually I'd spend time composing that from scratch myself but this time I copied and pasted the data into CGPT; I asked it to summarise the information in bullet point style; it did this (accurately) in seconds, I could then copy and paste it into my letter to the client, it probably saved me about 20 minutes.
- I've used it to analyse and summarise dividend vs bonus calculations (it could probably do the calculations itself but I haven't tried that yet!). I asked it to prepare various tax calculations too which were done in seconds, with minimal typed prompts by myself (we checked the accuracy of the calculations afterwards and they were spot on)
- I've used it to help with interviewing new recruits
- I've used to to explain (in simple terms) tax rules and other similar
- I've used it to help me with wording for new client proposals
- If you copy in some detailed tax rules or say an article and ask it to produce a blog post (or ask it to produce a number of blog posts from the same article), it does it really well and in seconds
- If you give it a scenario of an accounting entry, e.g ask it to produce the journals for the purchase and disposal of a fixed asset on finance (and give it the figures); in seconds it will produce the whole journal inc figures and an explanation of that journal.
- The financial analysis capabilities in it are probably one of the best features that our industry can use

It does need practice for new users; understanding what prompts to type into the commands and how to phrase them is important (Mark Wickersham has got a good online 2 hour webinar explaining this but there are other courses available I'm sure).

The user that mentioned about not wholly relying on it is correct; you have to be sceptical, it should improve all the time but I don't think one can 100% rely on it all the time.

I also agree about the comment about the art of research getting potentially lost through this, however, its power does seem impressive so far.
Of course, it cannot replace human intervention and the soft skills we accountants need in order to build trust and a great relationship with clients which I believe is so important still.

I am currently using it as a time saving tool mainly (and it certainly is saving me time).

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By leeanthonyblackshaw
01st May 2024 19:47

When Microsoft automatically installed Copilot, I found it useful: in asking how to disable Copilot.

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By Steven Dring
02nd May 2024 09:47

I'm interested to see where this goes & am very much in the camp that this type of technology will change our roles drastically in the coming years (or months!)

So far, I've only attempted to train Chat GPT to generate a flow chart style questionnaire to determine associated companies. I tried inputting official guidance, in addition to 3rd party explanations of the guidance and then running through a mildly complex situation.
The programme got it wrong.
Then accepted their answer was wrong, and got it wrong again.
Then got it right, so I asked it to summarise why, then it changed its mind & got it wrong.
From this point, it flip-flopped between the correct & incorrect answer whenever asked to justify its result.

I have high hopes that this will be useful to us all in the very near future. for now though, I only use it as a starting point for research projects.

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Replying to Steven Dring:
Tornado
By Tornado
03rd May 2024 10:11

Your experience seems completely different to Blackdust567 who has managed to get AI to do an impressive array of tasks.

My general impression, however, is that there is a lot of work involved to encourage AI to actually do what you want it to, much like creating a spreadsheet for a specific task.

I feel that AI will have a place somewhere in Accountancy & Taxation, and it can be very clever, but my Clients already the information that they need to run their businesses and much of this is just key 'need to know' information and any additional fancy data or detailed analysis will just bog them down.

AI is definitely just for those that like playing with data and good luck to them, but my clients are more interested in more down to earth day to day matters that are much bigger problems than AI can solve.

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Replying to More unearned luck:
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By FactChecker
02nd May 2024 13:23

That at least is no surprise ... their core services are the heart of the target at which AI is currently being pointed.
Lots of data / fast searching / correct interpretation - only that last step is still not fully reliable (but it will be soon - at least to the extent that Help/Advice-lines are).

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By FactChecker
02nd May 2024 17:45

And, quelle surprise, having now taken a look at it ... it's NOT really a Survey, just a Marketing campaign (combining collection of your data with promoting their 'new offer' to you)!

They must be quite scared ... as I can't see any reason why you'd choose to pay for a bot 'trained on their data' vs a free bot that has been 'trained on everything'.

TBH I'm not that tempted by either option ... I'm still slightly reeling from the (obvious with hindsight) discovery of a basic flaw in the 'training process'.
Because AI is not actually imbued with 'intelligence' (just 'knowledge'), whenever a human reviews the results and tells it of a flaw in its logic ... it doesn't 'learn', it just adds the 'correct' logic item (whilst retaining the incorrect one) without learning anything at all. The volume of knowledge has increased, but the ability to use that intelligently is incrementally more confused than it was before!

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By GDavidson
02nd May 2024 13:48

What's the most impressive thing you have used it for? You don't say but ask us. Edit - sorry I scrolled down and saw your follow up. Can't say I'm overwhelmed though.

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By Rgab1947
02nd May 2024 15:35

I use chatgpt 3 as I cannot justify yet another subscription. But you have to understand its limitation.

I use it in tax research. That is I know the tax applicable but not the detail. I write very specific questions which include chatgpt required to give references and links.

I save tons of time and get detail. This includes HMRC manuals, the specific clauses in the act. Some court cases for context and some comments published by tax experts.

Much more than googling and I can get answers in minutes rather than a few hours searching.

You still have to read the tax stuff and understand. I can then use the answer to draft a letter to the client.

I would not call it AI. It's an assistant.

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By ianthetaxman
09th May 2024 10:45

I am trialing TaxWorld (the UK version) that another user mentioned.

My experience so far chimes with other comments on here. I soon realised that AI is very picky about how you phrase your question or task, even down to not liking certain acronyms but being perfectly happy with others (didn't know what an LLP was but knew what CGT means etc.).

I have asked it to generate an email about the conditions for BADR to send to a client, which it can do easily, but have noticed that it seems very limited in terms of providing a technical answer to specific queries (what needs to be considered when amortising IP), and often suggests contacting a tax professional for guidance! I thought that was why I was asking it the questions??!

I also noticed that most of what it paraphrases comes from the HMRC manuals (it does give you the resources used at the foot of the results). While this will no doubt grind most tax people, i must admit that if a Google search was done on the same query, you would no doubt get thousands of hits, many of which would be duplicates of the same thing, including those HMRC pages, so at least it does the 'sifting' for you.

However, like any tool it only works well if the person using it knows what it is for, how to use it, and then uses it in that way. My concern is that, like using Tolley or Croner-i (others are no doubt available), you simply don't know what you don't know when searching for answers. Changing one word in a search question on TaxWorld can change significant elements of the results it generates, so there is still some doubt in my mind that I could be 100% happy to rely on it.

I think if you can understand how to use it correctly, it could be a powerful tool. Reading what others are using AI for is interesting and does make me curious like others have indicated, as to what the wider application of this could be.

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Tornado
By Tornado
09th May 2024 11:38

"I have asked it to generate an email about the conditions for BADR to send to a client, which it can do easily, but have noticed that it seems very limited in terms of providing a technical answer to specific queries (what needs to be considered when amortising IP), and often suggests contacting a tax professional for guidance! I thought that was why I was asking it the questions??!"

It seems that AI is for anyone to use and the answers you are getting are what anyone could expect to get using the same question. Did you tell the AI that you were a professional or would that make no difference.

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Replying to Tornado:
By ianthetaxman
09th May 2024 11:53

Purely for the sake of extending the research into AI, I have just ask it a question about transferring shares into a trust, then asked the same question telling it I am a tax professional, and then again, saying a was a tax novice.

The first answer did contain some technical references and reference to HMRC manuals, suggesting the use of a tax professional. The second produced more 'points' (8 instead of 6) but with less detail than before, and the third produced only 6 less detailed points, almost word for word the same as the response before.

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Replying to ianthetaxman:
Tornado
By Tornado
09th May 2024 12:16

As has been mentioned many times before, we all need to carefully read our Professional Indemnity Policies to see what would happen if we use AI, even just as a tool, and get our advice wrong.

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Replying to ianthetaxman:
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By blackdust567
09th May 2024 21:20

In my shot time using ChatGPT what I am realising is that the quality of the questions (or 'prompts' as they are officially known) that you feed into it, are very important and have a major impact on the quality of what chatgpt responds with. I did a short webinar to give me some tips on creating 'prompts' which was really helpful

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Tornado
By Tornado
09th May 2024 12:20

It seems to me that AI is like Electric Cars ........... a great idea for some but littered with many insurmountable problems.

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Ivor Windybottom
By Ivor Windybottom
09th May 2024 17:09

I'm concerned about data security, so I am very wary about asking anything beyond generic queries as I won't put any client data into the system. This is holding me back from making much use of AI.

However, there are signs that open source models are coming that will allow wholly local data and thus be safe to use with confidential client information, which should be interesting.

I would say that for all of AI's faults this is currently the worst it will ever be. Who knows how good it will be in 12 months, 24 months.....

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