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The Rise of ChatGPT, Bots and the Evolving Role of Accountants

26th Mar 2024
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Fast-growing digital technologies are transforming many professions, and accounting is no exception. Tools like ChatGPT and Receipt Bot are automating many essential tasks in accounting. This blog explores what this means for the future of accountants and underscores the importance of an AI strategy.

Accountants' Role After AI: Chat GPT & Bots
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The accounting profession has evolved significantly with the advent of cloud accounting, practice management applications, and the emergence of AI and automation technologies. The rise of automation and generative AI, i.e. ChatGPT, is writing the next chapter in this evolution, with more profound changes.

The latest version of ChatGPT, GPT-4, has showcased exceptional capabilities in cognitive tasks, scoring in the 90th percentile for the Bar Exam and the 80th percentile for the GRE Quantitative Exam. That got us thinking: How would ChatGPT fare when sitting for an accountancy, bookkeeping, or taxation exam? More importantly, what is the significance of bots passing the professional exams for the respective professions?

Traditional Role of Accountants

In the past, accountants were responsible for maintaining financial records and ensuring accuracy. This included tasks such as recording transactions, creating financial statements, handling tax returns, and calculating tax obligations. Although these tasks may seem meticulous by today's standards, they were an essential and technical aspect of an accountant's job.

AI for Accounting with Chat GPT and Receipt Bot

Introducing tools like Receipt Bot and ChatGPT is driving a significant transformation in the accounting landscape. Receipt Bot automates bookkeeping using an AI-powered OCR for receipt data extraction and record transactions in your accounting software. On the other hand, ChatGPT can generate and analyse financial reports to provide insights. For example, it can identify spending patterns, predict future trends, and recommend cost-saving strategies.

From Number Crunching to Data Analysis

The traditional image of an accountant as a "bean counter" has shifted with advanced tools automating repetitive manual data entry tasks and allowing accountants to focus more on data analysis tasks.

Accountants can now analyse vast datasets using ChatGPT in Excel to identify patterns, build complex formulas, and clean/categorise transaction data.

Accountants' Role After AI: Chat GPT & Bots
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From Reporting to Strategic Advisor

Accountants have evolved from simply preparing financial reports to assuming the role of strategic advisors, thanks to the integration of generative AI technologies like GPT. For instance, they can employ GPT to analyse a company's financial performance against industry benchmarks or to evaluate the potential outcomes of different decisions as part of scenario planning.

Furthermore, with the implementation of ChatGPT, client expectations have shifted. Clients now come to accountants with more specific inquiries. For example, they no longer rely solely on internet searches and snippets of information. Instead, they come with detailed research with these AI tools and expect more tailored responses from their accountants. This shift presents a challenge for firms, especially when dealing with younger, more AI-savvy clients.
 

From Compliance to Proactive Risk Management

With the help of generative AI, accountants can shift from reactive regulatory compliance to a proactive approach to risk management. AI tools can now analyse extensive data, identifying potential fraud, compliance risks, and emerging financial threats. This enables accountants to suggest pre-emptive action, protecting clients from potential losses.
Armed with these data-driven insights, accountants can create targeted and cost-effective mitigation strategies, surpassing mere compliance services to maximise client protection and optimise resources.

Conclusion

Despite the potential of AI, many accounting firms remain at the exploratory stage, primarily using these LLM tools for generating marketing content, such as LinkedIn posts and blogs. This approach, while beneficial, risks producing content that lacks uniqueness—a challenge that firms need to address by leveraging AI more creatively and strategically to stand out. There is much more that accountants can do with today’s AI capabilities, that was not possible in the past.

It's imperative for accounting firms not just to adopt AI haphazardly but to create a deliberate AI or technology strategy. Focusing on specific problems core to their business, firms should explore how AI tools, like ChatGPT and Receipt Bot, can offer solutions tailored to their unique challenges. This targeted approach ensures the technology adds real value rather than being a solution in search of a problem.