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How AI is changing the accounting industry

Let’s face it: most conversations around artificial intelligence (AI) today will bring up several emotions, from fear to curiosity, and also, excitement. We’re chomping at the bit to see how we can use AI to our advantage to simplify and ease our lives both professionally and personally. And yet, we are concerned about what might happen as AI advances and matures. It’s a fear of the unknown. 

Are you surprised to discover that thanks to AI’s ability to automate repetitive tasks and enhance data analysis capabilities, AI has already been long adopted by accountants

AI is already helping accountants and others within the accounting industry to perform accurate financial planning for clients, automate routine tasks, enhance data analysis, and improve fraud detection. This is just the beginning.

The accounting industry is shifting and adjusting

In this article, take a look at what AI is exactly, how AI is being applied in the accounting industry and its benefits and, more importantly, what the future with AI looks like. It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, quite the opposite as we review how AI is truly changing how things are done and can be done. Let’s jump right in!

What is artificial intelligence?

In essence, AI is a technology that enables computers and machines to do several things that simulate human intelligence in performing various tasks. These include solving problems, making decisions and executing repetitive processes. 

AI systems can analyse large data sets, recognise patterns, and make informed predictions to enhance efficiency and accuracy in various fields, including accounting. 

Language models such as GPT, which powers ChatGPT, are built on deep learning techniques and are trained on large amounts of data to help the model understand and generate human-like text. These models can perform traditionally time-consuming tasks for accountants, freeing them up to focus more on high-value strategic work. 

For instance, a GPT model can help automate the generation of reports, use language queries to interact with financial data and extract relevant information from invoices.

Intuit is at the forefront of AI; our strategy is to be an AI-driven expert platform. In the accounting industry alone, over 730 million AI-driven customer interactions are occurring annually, leading to 58 billion machine learning predictions per day. 

In fact, we’ve built our own Generative AI Operating System (GenOS) platform. GenOS leverages custom-trained financial large language models specialising in tax, accounting, cash flow and more.

Take the stress out of managing your firm

The benefits of artificial intelligence in accounting 

Using AI in accounting and to aid the delivery of accounting services offers several advantages, many of which are already beginning to change the execution and management of procedures and systems for the better.

These are some of the positive AI impacts in the accounting industry:

Increased automation of routine tasks

Even as recent as a few years ago, it was reported that a great majority of accountants were still spending considerable time on repetitive tasks such as data entry, transaction categorisation, and invoice processing. While essential, these tasks are also time-consuming and prone to error

But here’s the thing - these tasks don’t necessarily require an accountant’s unique skills and expertise, making a compelling case for the introduction of AI to ease the burden by offloading repetitive and transactional activities. 

Increased automation paves the way for accountants to showcase value by focusing on financial analysis, strategic planning, forecasting, compliance, regulatory adherence and performance measurement. 

QuickBooks Online is an Intuit software that uses AI to help automate repetitive tasks for accountants and advisors. These tasks can include data entry, invoice processing and even generating financial reporting. 

Enhanced and refined data analysis

By harnessing the power of AI-driven tools, accountants can now process large amounts of data at unprecedented speeds. This empowers them to analyse datasets and extract insights efficiently.

One of the strengths of AI algorithms, which form part of machine learning, lies in their ability to identify patterns and trends within data. This proficiency empowers accountants to unearth insights from financial datasets that may have otherwise remained hidden through conventional analysis.

Improved fraud detection

With more people shopping online each year, global ecommerce is on the rise. The flipside to such growth is a rise in financial fraud, theft, blackmail, corruption and money laundering. AI has the potential to help businesses improve how they identify, prevent, and address fraudulent activities within financial processes.

AI algorithms can be effective in recognising patterns and outliers across datasets. This plays a role in detecting any financial transactions or behaviours that might indicate fraud is occurring.

Thanks to AI-enabled fraud detection systems, financial transactions can now be monitored quickly. This allows for the identification of fraudulent activities as they occur.

By identifying changes in regular transaction behaviours, AI can promptly notify accountants about potential fraud at an early stage, preventing losses from escalating.

Greater personalisation of financial advice

Accountants and finance professionals can leverage AI-driven algorithms and data analysis to provide recommendations and insights that cater to individuals' and businesses' financial circumstances and goals.

By analysing volumes of data, including income, expenses, investments and market trends, AI enables a data-driven approach to offer customised advice. This technology considers an individual's or business's financial goals, risk tolerance levels and preferences to provide advice that aligns with their objectives.

AI can evaluate risk profiles and market trends to suggest investment strategies that offer returns while considering an individual's appetite for risk.

Read more: How AI can Improve Businesses.

AI’s impact on accounting now and in the future 

AI has already brought changes to the accounting field, and there’s more to come. There are changes in how accounting processes are carried out, in how financial data is analysed, and how accountants provide value to their clients and organisations.

So, what does the future hold for AI in the accounting industry?

Well, enthusiasm varies depending on the role of a person within a firm. For instance, an owner, partner or director is far more likely to embrace AI as compared to individual contributors who may feel more challenged about its role in comparison to their own. So, roles matter in how AI is perceived.

However, what has become clear is that AI is becoming a central aspect of modern business strategy. Accountants are beginning to recognise how AI can add value to their firm and provide them with a competitive advantage over others.

AI systems are proving themselves capable of handling tasks that require cognitive abilities. For instance, natural language processing (NLP) enables accountants to use AI systems to understand documents, contracts and regulatory texts. This advancement in NLP allows accountants to interact with AI systems using language, making it easier for them to access information, generate reports and ask queries.

Interestingly enough the most valuable use case for AI in accounting is communication. That’s right - The State of AI in Accounting 2024: Emerging Trends, Challenges, & Opportunities in 2024 reports that accountants are using AI to compose emails and fine-tune their emails more so than for accounting-specific functions like tax preparation. 

So, the role of accountants is evolving. There will be far more focus now on making decisions, interpreting insights generated by AI systems, and providing expert oversight to ensure data accuracy and ethical considerations are upheld.

Are we at a crossroads? Potentially, yes. While overuse, abuse and far-reaching implications of AI growth are not fully discernible, the potential to transform and grow and take our businesses to new heights are too great to ignore.

Read More: Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Accountants

Unlock the power of AI with Intuit's AI accounting software

As AI revolutionises industries, Intuit is leading the way by integrating cutting-edge AI technology into its accounting software. Now is the time to leverage the potential of AI for your accounting requirements.

Experience what others have - a world where tasks like data entry, transaction categorisation and invoice processing become fully automated. Reflect on how this brings tremendous benefit to your business through streamlining, error reduction, and increased efficiencies while also providing space and time for higher-value business activities. 

But that's not all. With AI, your ability to analyse data will reach new heights. AI algorithms will help you uncover hidden patterns, identify trends, and provide insights that could help with your planning and forecasting. Thanks to the power of AI-generated insights, making informed decisions will be easier than ever before.

Sign up for Quickbooks Online today and unlock the power of AI technology for all your accounting needs.

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