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Unleashing the power of AI in accounting: A game-changer for your practice!

30 May 2023

Hold onto your ledgers, we're about to turbocharge the world of numbers with Generative AI! Imagine a world of real-time data analysis and intuitive prediction engines (that actually make sense!).

Using AI will mean systems can assist with audits, detect anomalies, and offer strategic advice to maximise profitability.

Generative AI is no longer the future, it’s here now, and embracing it can take your practice to the next level – This is a journey you want to be a part of!

The basics

Earlier this month, we held a members’ webinar about the basics of Generative AI. Showcasing the best of Chat GPT, of which there is one free version (3.5) and one paid for version (4), as well as the new rising star which was launched to the masses just two days before, Google Bard. The webinar is now available on-demand to all 20:20 Innovation members.

These are conversational models that excel (excuse the pun!) at generating human-like dialogue, providing insightful responses and helpful replies and can been used for hundreds of tasks from creating formula for your spreadsheet to writing your marketing literature and generating ideas.

However, even as AI capabilities increase, the common accounting principle of 'rubbish in, rubbish out' still holds. The quality of AI responses depends significantly on the quality of the input question. The ability of the AI to provide a meaningful and accurate response is directly related to how well-phrased, clear, and precise the initial query is. These are called ‘’prompts’’ and there is an art to engineering them.

For our platinum members, we have put together a helpful guide on asking great questions – click here to find it in your resources!

Top 3 tips for using AI tech

There are many considerations when using these new language models, but we have listed our top three to give you confidence in trying them out now.

1) Utilise Effective Prompts
To maximise the benefits of Generative AI, accountants need to craft well-structured, contextual prompts. As mentioned, these tools respond based on the input it receives - the clearer your questions, the more precise and useful the AI's responses.

2) Recognise Hallucinations
While Generative AI is incredibly advanced, it can sometimes provide 'hallucinated' or incorrect responses. It's essential for accountants to be able to identify these inaccuracies. By understanding the tool's limitations and cross-verifying the responses, you can ensure the information you get is reliable and useful.

3) Explore and Invest
The world of Generative AI is continually evolving. Accountants should stay ahead of the curve by exploring new AI tools and investing in continuous learning. Making sure your team is regularly updated and trained on these developments is imperative for their progress and to allow your firm to take a competitive advantage. At 20:20 Innovation, we are ensuring that evolutions in Generative AI are an ongoing feature and discussion point within our Tech Talk group.

What’s new?

Just a few weeks ago, the main difference between ChatGPT and Google Bard was that only the latter had access to the internet. Where OpenAI’s Chat GPT had a more human-like response, by being more conversational and allowing you to watch it type its result, Google’s response was far more accurate with the ability to draw down up to date information online.

But like anything in this real-life revolution of the robots, within a few days that had all changed and Chat-GPT 4 (costing $20 per month due to its ability to ‘reason’ better) introduced a feature in the beta phase which has connectivity to the internet.

It is important to note the speed of change here; all these systems are continually learning. This means feedback is valuable, so clicking the thumbs up, or thumbs down, when you receive a response will help develop these systems. It also means you don’t always have to take the first attempt as the only one, you can ask it to regenerate a response, or add detail to your initial prompt.

Is it safe?

As we continue to explore the expanding horizons of AI, it's critical to adhere to safe usage practices. Misuse or misunderstanding of AI tools can lead to unintended consequences, ranging from simple inaccuracies to ethical issues and even possible PI claims!

Although there are ways to stop Generative AI tools from retaining your data to learn from, it’s still too risky to most to be entering confidential client or firm data into them.

We remind our 20:20 Innovation members to revisit our Safe Use Policy, which provides comprehensive guidelines for responsible AI usage both on systems used in practice already and stand alone systems. All members can access the template policy document here.

What’s next?

With the lightning speed of development in the space – and rumours that 2,000+ AI models are being created each month – there are always new products to be aware of.

We will be covering some of the best AI tools for accountants in our next Generative AI webinar, available exclusively to ‘Tech Talkers’. Not only discussing what is out there, but how to use it and not get too lost on the bleeding edge of new tech.

As an example, ChatGPT have announced plug ins to allow you to connect the system to others and create efficient integrations.

In the world of accounting, practice management systems such as Karbon and Pixie have introduced ‘Co-Pilot’ which is an AI tool to assist the user.

Both of these points, and more will be discussed in our 9 June Tech Talk webinar.

We're witnessing an exciting time in the evolution of AI. New capabilities are continually emerging, and the potential for accounting firms to prosper by utilising these tools is vast. Let's navigate this journey together, learning and growing while ensuring we use these powerful tools wisely.