Artificial intelligence (AI) is being explored for the ways it can support accountants and CPAs in providing services for their clients. However, AI is also being used by individuals and businesses, who might then mistakenly think they don’t need an accountant. Pennsylvania’s financial professionals need to demonstrate that by combining their expertise with the power of AI, they can provide their clients with the financial guidance they need to optimize their taxes and grow their businesses.
What AI can do
AI can tackle the monotonous job of data entry with optical character recognition (OCR), extracting key information from financial documents, invoices, and receipts and saving you or your customer many hours of work.
AI-powered bookkeeping systems can integrate with various data sources, such as banks and payment portals, to provide financial profiles in real-time, monitoring cash-flow and analyzing how a company’s financial position changes throughout the cycle – daily, weekly, monthly – to help your client make more accurate financial strategies and goals.
AI can find trends and patterns more quickly than humans can by collecting and analyzing large volumes of data at a rapid speed. This can also be helpful for security and compliance purposes, discovering possible anomalies that might signal potentially fraudulent activity.
However, AI is only as good as its input and its algorithm. There have been numerous cases of AI drawing inaccurate conclusions, particularly in the area of healthcare. This is partly because of how the algorithm is built and the choice of information used for drawing conclusions. But it’s also because artificial intelligence is, by definition, artificial. There is no human component that prevents it from drawing the wrong conclusions or recognizing why a certain input should not be included in the analysis. This is AI’s Achilles heel, and why accountants are needed.
Why AI is not enough
AI is a tool that can perform monotonous tasks and pull together large volumes of information, but your clients need your guidance and expertise to make sure the information is used accurately and takes into consideration your clients’ goals, values, and needs.
And while AI is great for data processing, analytics, and streamlining financial processes, some complex company finances need human experience and oversight, such as when dealing with taxes and transactions across multiple states and multiple countries.
AI’s analytics cannot adjust to or even predict uncertain or unseen situations that may not appear in the data but that you, with your experience and awareness of wider events in the economy or political landscape, can draw on to provide your client with customized advice.
As an accountant, analyze for your own practice how AI can help you pivot into a position of being a trusted advisor, using the AI tool to help you provide better services to your clients to become an indispensable part of their financial team.