2023 is the year of AI. From ChatGPT to Midjourney, it’s rapidly becoming apparent that artificial intelligence will integrate into nearly every aspect of society. In fact, Goldman Sachs recently said that up to 300 million jobs worldwide could be affected by AI. While that can be scary, it also represents new opportunities.
AI will transform the way we work. How that manifests with your CPA is worth talking about. Here’s where we see AI going in regards to CPA businesses in the next few years.
QuickBooks Online already uses AI for some tasks
Here’s the thing: AI has existed in this space for years. Let’s look at QuickBooks as an example. They use rudimentary AI that’s built into their program to help with bookkeeping services. Right now you can log into your QuickBooks, link every major account (credit cards, banks, etc) and it will create a data feed of those transactions. The AI will then attempt to match payments against invoices or even code their expense category.
That said, it hasn’t always been a smooth transition for people using this service. Why? People are having issues with it, and when they have issues, well, they want to talk to a person. That’s a good way of looking at how AI will be used in the immediate future with CPAs. We don’t see it as a replacement, we see it as a tool so that your CPA can focus on higher level tasks and help grow your business.
aI's best feature is supplementing bookkeeping
QuickBooks might be having some problems initially, but it’s onto the right idea. When AI seems to work best is when it’s used as a shortcut for manual tasks. Those might not add value by themselves, but the sheer speed and accuracy with which it can do work will mean that you can get more accurate financials, faster.
That’s a big value add for clients. We’ll be the first to tell you that a CPA with accurate, up-to-date numbers is a HUGE asset. Why? Because advisory roles are perhaps the greatest asset a CPA can give to your business. It’s not enough to have the information, it’s knowing how to act on the information. We live in a world encumbered by data, a good CPA will push you past analysis paralysis and help you decide the best course of action for what happens next.
where ai might lag behind: planning and the human element
Chat GPT can tell your expenses are up, but it might not always give you the best way to get them down. Let’s say that you run a restaurant with high overhead. A CPA knows that there are several ways of combating this. Sure, AI might recognize that you need to find cheaper produce or decrease the cost in some way – but it might not always come up with outside-the-box answers like trimming down your menu from 80 items to 40 items. That’s a simple solution that might mean less waste, less spoilage, and less inventory – but it’s not always easily apparent just from looking at cost.
Beyond that, AI has one other thing working against it: humans. Sure it can give advice, but are you always going to take it? A large part of our work as CPAs is showing and explaining our reasoning to our clients so that they can make the right decisions for themselves. To get past the psychological barriers that might come with a big decision (let’s say, reworking parts pricing), you need someone who empathizes and can talk you through it. Unfortunately, right now an AI just isn’t set up for that.
The future? AI and human CPAs working together
We’re excited to see where AI takes us next. It’s happening sooner rather than later. We suspect that like with all tools, working in tandem with a human being will get the optimal results. We’re actively looking for new ways to grow our clients’ businesses and AI is no exception.
So what do you think? How is AI going to impact your business this year? We’re excited to have more time freed up to do higher-level work and create more value for our clients. What an exciting time to be doing business!