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You’re missing out if you don’t use AI often, accountants told

Technology

It is up to accountants to use AI tools often to reap their benefits, a technology strategist said.

By Malavika Santhebennur 10 minute read

Ahead of her keynote session at the ACE24 Accounting Conference and Expo 2024, Theory and Motion CEO Inbal Rodnay said that the onus is on accountants to experiment with generative artificial intelligence tools to discover their effective use cases.

“The difference between generative AI tools like ChatGPT and traditional accounting software is that the former doesn’t come with a manual. You have to use your imagination to make best use of them,” Rodnay told Accountants Daily.

While some accounting firms have been eager to experiment with AI, she noted that others may have never used it or discontinued it after a short while because they failed to notice significant positive results.

“We all have access to the same tool but are seeing different results,” she said.

“The difference between those who adopt AI tools and see results and those who don’t is the willingness to experiment. I’m seeing that some accounting firms are making the most of it by automating their processes and lifting the quality of their work. They are also letting junior staff undertake more sophisticated tasks by providing this support.”

For example, when Rodnay began using ChatGPT, she thought of it as a graduate assistant to whom she could ask questions and brainstorm with.

“I started asking how I could use AI for every task I do to make this easier, faster, better, and I kept experimenting,” she explained.

“Sometimes it didn’t help but many times it did. Hence, the user won’t know what it can do for them unless they keep trying.”

However, Rodnay added that many accounting firms are fearful of engaging with AI tools or are awaiting clear instructions on how to use it.

“They might have tried it once but didn’t get what they wanted so they thought it was no good,” she said.

“I run sessions on the use of ChatGPT, and I ask hundreds of people whether they’ve tried it at least once or are using it every day. The majority are not using it every day and they're missing out.”

Accountants could use AI-driven tools such as data assistants and client engagement platforms to promote their firms, communicate with clients, and access analytics and reporting tools

They could integrate the tools into their existing accounting software such as Xero.

Other practice management platforms have introduced tools to help accountants draft emails and summarise email threads to update clients.

Accountants can also use apps to streamline their technology stack and efficiencies, and grow their practice.

On top of this, Rodnay encouraged accountants to Microsoft Excel to its full potential to yield results.

“Everyone is paying for the licence but some use it in very basic ways,” she said.

“Some accountants use it to summarise and add lists of numbers while other people are creating sophisticated models by using advanced formulas.”

Rodnay suggested that using a data analytics reporting dashboard tool like Microsoft Power Bi – which brings disparate data sets into the dashboard – could help accountants decipher their data and build models for their clients.

While acknowledging that the rapid evolution of AI tools could overwhelm accountants, she said providing education typically spurs them to begin using these tools.

“During my session at the ACE24 Accounting Conference and Expo 2024, I want attendees to move from either never having used the tools or used it once and didn't get what they wanted, to knowing how to use it and being willing to try things,” Rodnay said.

“I want them to move from having never heard of these tools to being eager to use it because they understand how to get started.”

To receive practical and easy tips from Inbal Rodnay around how to integrate AI tools into your accounting practice, come along to the ACE24 Accounting Conference and Expo 2024.

It will be held on Thursday, 20 June at Hyatt Regency, Sydney.

Click here to buy tickets and don’t miss out!

For more information, including agenda and speakers, click here.

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Malavika Santhebennur

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